Letting Agent Regulation 1st Oct 2015

The letting industry in Scotland has grown over the years. It is estimated there are approximately 700 letting businesses, accounting for around 50% of all annual lettings. Together, the businesses are responsible for about 150,000 lettings per year. Many letting agents operate in a professional manner, complying with voluntary codes of practice and offering a high standard of service. However there are some letting agents who fail to offer a quality service, and in some cases operate illegal practices.

And so at long last, letting agents are to be regulated under The Housing (Scotland) Act 2014. The Key Place thinks this is well overdue. The Scottish Government is currently consulting on a draft statutory code of practice and training requirements, which will go on to form the mandatory requirements which must be met by those applying to be included in the Letting Agent Register.

The new code will set out the standards expected of letting agents in how they manage their business and provide their service.

The aim of the regulation is to raise standards within the private rented sector, with the provision of good quality housing, and high management standards. This will help inspire consumer confidence and encourage growth through investment in private rented housing.

Housing Minister, Margaret Burgess says,  ‘Letting agents are vital to helping achieve this vision, and this new framework, including the code of practice, will support the industry to improve standards, provide a good service to both landlords and tenants, and empower customers.`

The Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 introduces a framework for the regulation of letting agents in Scotland. This includes:
• a mandatory register of letting agents with an associated ‘fit and proper’ person test
• a training requirement that must be met to be admitted to the register
• a statutory code of practice all letting agents must follow
• a way for tenants and landlords to resolve complaints against letting agents for breaches of the statutory Code of Practice through a new specialist First-tier Tribunal
• powers for Scottish Ministers to obtain information and to inspect to monitor compliance and enforce regulatory requirements

The draft code draws on existing industry codes of practice that many letting agents already follow. It aims to clearly set out the standards of practice that tenants and landlords should expect. This will help ensure that the small minority of letting agents who offer poor service or break the law are challenged, helping to create a more level playing field for all agents within the industry.

Once implemented, these will help increase the overall standards of service and professionalism within the letting industry and provide customers with an effective way to resolve complaints.

The Key Place embraces the forthcoming regulation and will keep you updated regarding progress.