Scottish letting agents code of practice goes live
A new code of practice for letting agents in Scotland has gone live, which the Scottish government has said will "empower" tenants.
Under the new regime, letting agents must join an official register and their key staff must have undergone a minimum level of training. Failure to meet the criteria can lead to them being taken off the register and barred from working as letting agents.
In addition, poor practice can be challenged through the code by both landlords and tenants, with the new First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) being created to enforce the new rules.
These new regulations include a range of standards that have to be met by agents, including tight rules on the handling of clients' money.
Commenting on the new code, Scotland's housing minister Kevin Stewart said giving tenants more power was a key reform ministers wanted to make to the rental sector.
He added: "These reforms, and the need for the sector to meet key standards and expectations, are an important step in achieving our ambitions."
Mr Stewart went on to acknowledge that the situation in Scotland is not one of generally poor quality work by agents, but simply a desire to uphold the work of those who do their job well and root out those who do not.
He noted: “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."
Agents who have been performing well in Scotland should therefore feel they have no concerns, while those who are not need to improve fast - or find alternative employment.
There has been substantial time to prepare for the new rules, as the legislation was included in the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014. Landlords have until October 1st 2018 to apply to join the new register.