Letting agent code of practice goes live.
A new, statutory Code of Practice for letting agents, which will improve standards and empower tenants, has come into force.
Letting agents are required to join a register of letting agents, and key individuals in agencies must meet a minimum level of training. Should they fail to meet the standards expected they can be removed from the register, preventing them from operating as a letting agent.
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).
The code also sets out standards that must be met in how letting agents deliver services. It includes specific requirements on how clients’ money should be handled.
Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said:
“We are committed to ensuring the highest quality private rented sector, which empowers tenants. These reforms, and the need for the sector to meet key standards and expectations, are an important step in achieving our ambitions.
“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.
“The private rented sector provides a place to call home for hundreds of thousands of people – they deserve the necessary standards and protections to find and keep that home. The reforms we have introduced in private renting are the biggest changes for a generation and will deliver significant improvements, benefiting tenants and landlords.”
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.
Agents have until the 1 October 2018 to make an application to join the register.
The full letting agent code of practice is available online.
At the end of 2017, a new Private Residential Tenancy was introduced, providing tenants more security and stability coupled with safeguards for landlords, lenders and investors.
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