A consultation on a new letting agents’ code of practice has been launched in Scotland. The consultation will gather opinion not just on the code of practice but on the need for agents to undergo suitable training before admission into a compulsory register.
The Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 places considerable focus on the regulation of Scotland’s letting agents. Key points of the act include:
– The implementation of a mandatory register to which letting agents must be added. This is linked with a test to assess if agents are ‘fit and proper’ for the role.
– A requirement for suitable training before letting agents can be admitted on to the register.
– A code of practice covered by law to which every letting agent will have to adhere.
– A means by which landlords and tenants can resolve complaints about letting agents who breach the code of practice. This would be achieved through a First-tier Tribunal process.
– Powers to allow Ministers in Scotland to gain access to information in order to inspect and monitor compliance in relation to the regulations and to enforce requirements if necessary.
Part One of the consultation asks for opinions on a draft of the Letting Agent Code of Practice, whilst Part Two focusses specifically on the requirement for training that letting agents would face in order to secure a place on the Letting Agent Register.
Once the consultation closes, the responses will be analysed in a bid to finalise the code and clarify the training requirements.
Speaking of the consultation, Margaret Burgess, Scottish Housing Minister, said that the country’s Government was committed to seeing a private rental property sector which embodies high management standards and which provides good quality homes to tenants in Scotland. She added that the vision was also to encourage growth and inspire consumer confidence.
Ms Burgess said that letting agents in Scotland played a vital role in helping the Government to achieve its vision. The new framework, featuring both the training requirements and code of practice, she claimed, would support the private rented sector in improving standards and providing a quality service to both tenants and landlords. Ms. Burgess also believes that it would empower customers.
Shelter Scotland, meanwhile, has welcomed the code of practice consultation and has already announced that it will be submitting its own response. Alison Watson, Shelter Scotland’s deputy director, said that the charity had long campaigned in a bid to improve the performance of letting agents and that the sector as a whole is likely to require a clean-up in a bid to protect landlords and tenants from what she termed ‘cowboys’ and ‘sharp practices’
Ms Watson called the consultation ‘a positive step’, claiming that it was good news for tenants, landlords and letting agents alike.
The consultation was opened on August 24 and will run until November 15. Views can be emailed to lettingagentregulation@