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Tenants and landlords to benefit from new regulations

Letting agents have six months to meet requirements of statutory code.

Letting agents have six months to prepare for compliance with a new, statutory Code of Practice, set to improve standards and empower customers. Housing Minister Kevin Stewart is writing to all commercial letting agents to highlight the changes and their responsibilities, 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.    

 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.”

Background

 The Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 introduced a framework for the regulation of letting agents in Scotland. The code formed one part of this and will be fundamental to the effectiveness of the new regulatory framework.

The Scottish Government has developed a guide for those undertaking letting agency work to assist them in meeting the requirements for registration. It is available at:

https://www.mygov.scot/letting-agent-registration/

During the last Parliament, the Scottish Government introduced a number of important reforms in the private renting sector – starting with the publication of a Strategy for the Private Rented Sector in Scotland in 2013 and culminated in the passage of the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016.

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