Letting agent code of practice now in force in Scotland

A new code of practice for lettings agents has come into force in Scotland with the aim of improving standards and giving landlords and tenants more rights.

Letting agents are now required to join a register and key individuals in agencies must meet a minimum level of training. Failure to meet the required standards can result in being struck off.

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).

The code also sets out standards that must be met in how letting agents deliver services. It includes specific requirements on how clients’ money should be handled.

‘We are committed to ensuring the highest quality private rented sector, which empowers tenants. These reforms, and the need for the sector to meet key standards and expectations, are an important step in achieving our ambitions,’ said Housing Minister Kevin Stewart.

‘Many letting agents already do a great deal to 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,’ he pointed out.

‘The private rented sector provides a place to call home for hundreds of thousands of people and they deserve the necessary standards and protections to find and keep that home. The reforms we have introduced in private renting are the biggest changes for a generation and will deliver significant improvements, benefiting tenants and landlords,’ he added.

Agents have until the 30 September 2018 to submit an application to join the register and must be on the register by the 01 October 2018. From September it will be a criminal offence to conduct letting agency work if not on the register. Those breaking the rules could face a fine of up to £50,000 and up to six months imprisonment.