We don’t normally do articles affecting Scotland only but, landlords can soon start to take action against poor performing letting agents who fail to keep to standards set by a new statutory code of practice.
From January 31, 2018, every letting agent in Scotland must comply with the code – which means meeting strict rules about handling deposits, client money and taking out professional indemnity insurance.
Landlords can trigger a legal challenge before a tribunal to claim compensation for rule breaches.
Besides adhering to the code, letting agents in Scotland must also sign up to a mandatory register and undertake regular training.
The Scottish Government Housing Minister Kevin 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, 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.”
The government has published a guide outlining how letting agents should register and the steps they need to take to comply with the new code.
Scotland also has a mandatory landlord register which requires them to display their registration number on advertising.
Letting a property as an unregistered landlord is a criminal offence with a fine of up to £50,000.