Six months left for letting agents to meet statutory code requirements

Residential housing sale and letting signs are seen in Hastings in southern EnglandHousing minister Kevin Stewart is writing to all commercial letting agents to highlight a new statutory Code of Practice and the need to comply by January 31 2018.

The code sets out standards that must be met in how letting agents deliver services. It includes specific requirements on how clients’ money should be handled. It also makes it compulsory to have Client Money Protection and Professional Indemnity Insurance.

Landlords and tenants can use the code to challenge poor practice and, if necessary, enforce it through the new First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber). Letting agents will be required to join the Scottish Government’s mandatory register of letting agents, and key individuals in agencies must meet a minimum level of training.

According to the minister, the changes are set to improve standards and empower customers.

Mr Stewart said: “We are committed to ensuring the highest quality private rented sector, which empowers tenants. Our framework for regulation, and the need for the sector to meet key standards and expectations through the code, is an important step in achieving our ambitions.

“Many letting agents already do a great deal to continuously improve standards and inspire confidence amongst landlords and tenants. The introduction of the code means a level playing field for all and ensures clarity on rights, responsibilities and expectations.

“For many people private renting provides a place to call home, and they deserve the necessary standards and protections to find and keep that home. With six months until the code comes into force letting agents must take steps now to be ready for these new ways of working.”

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