Private renting

Regulating the sector

Various measures regulate the private rented sector to ensure letting agents, landlords and properties meet certain standards

Letting agents

Letting agents have an important role in helping the private rented sector to be professional and well managed, providing good-quality homes that people need.

We have introduced a framework for the regulation of letting agents through Part 4 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 to help improve service and professionalism within the industry.

This framework includes:

  • mandatory registration of letting agents – applicants will be required to be assessed as 'fit and proper' to undertake letting agency work and meet minimum training standards to be admitted to the letting agent register
  • a statutory letting agent code of practice which came into force on 31 January 2018. It sets out the service standards that letting agents must meet and will give tenants and landlords the ability to challenge poor practice
  • a  means of redress to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber). Landlords, tenants and Scottish Ministers will be able to go to the tribunal where there has been a breach of the code of practice. Where an agent has failed to comply with the code, the tribunal must issue an enforcement order setting out the steps the letting agent must take to rectify the problem
  • powers for Scottish Ministers to obtain information and of inspection, to monitor compliance and support enforcement

These measures give landlords and tenants confidence in the standard of service they should expect from a letting agent and give them the means to challenge poor practice where this arises.

We have published a letting agent registration guide for those carrying out letting agency work to explain what agents need to do.


For more information, email:

Landlord registration

The landlord registration scheme:

  • provides a register of all private landlords for public inspection (with the added assurance that the council has conducted a 'fit and proper person' test)
  • provides a regularly updated register that can be used to help communication between councils and landlords
  • ensures that landlord registration enforcement action is focused on tackling the worst landlords in the sector, including those who fail to act to minimise their tenants' anti-social behaviour

Private landlords must register with their local authority and ensure they meet the legal requirements for letting houses. Local authorities are responsible for enforcing landlord registration. They must be satisfied that the landlord is a fit and proper person to let houses before they can be entered on the register. Local authorities are also responsible for enforcing landlord registration. Operating as a registered landlord without being registered or having applied to be registered is subject to a maximum £50,000 fine and suspension of rent payments.

More information: Landlord Registration Scotland

Guidance for local authorities

Enhanced Enforcement Areas

The Enhanced Enforcement Areas Scheme (Scotland) Regulations 2015 enable councils to apply for additional discretionary powers so that they can target specific areas with particularly poor conditions for tenants.

In 2015, we approved an EEA application by Glasgow City Council to designate an area of Govanhill as being of 'enhanced status'.

Houses in multiple occupation licensing

Mandatory licensing applies to houses or flats occupied by three or more unrelated people, who share bathroom or kitchen facilities.

HMOs must meet physical standards set by the licensing local authority under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006, part 5.

The owner of an HMO must have a licence from the local authority where the property is situated. Licensing helps ensure that accommodation is safe, well managed and of good quality.

Before granting a licence the local authority must be satisfied that:

  • the owner and any manager of the property is 'fit and proper' to hold a licence
  • the property meets required physical standards
  • the property is suitable for use as an HMO (or could be made so by including conditions in the licence)

HMOs are also covered by fire safety legislation.

The local authority sets the standards required and also sets the fees charged for a licence application. Scottish Ministers have issued guidance to local authorities on the licensing of HMOs.

It is a criminal offence to operate an HMO without a licence. The maximum fine is £50,000. Local authorities have a range of other enforcement options, including power to vary the terms of a licence or revoke it. An HMO licence can also be revoked if the owner or agent, or the living accommodation, is no longer suitable.

Energy efficiency standards

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update April 2020: The Energy Efficiency (Domestic Private Rented Property (Scotland) Regulations 2020 were due to come into force on 1 April 2020. However the decision has been made not to launch these regulations at this time because of the COVID-19 crisis. This is to reduce the burden on local authorities, who are focussing on frontline emergency responses, and to put the safety of tenants and workers at the forefront. We do not want to put pressure on landlords to try to undertake works in their properties at this time, when medical and government advice continues to mandate physical distancing measures. The work on improving energy efficiency in private rented housing will resume once the current COVID-19 crisis comes to an end.

Back to top