Publication - Consultation paper

Landlord registration: consultation on a review of applications and fees

Published: 15 Mar 2018
Directorate:
Housing and Social Justice Directorate
Part of:
Housing, Law and order
ISBN:
9781788516846

The consultation invites views on proposals to ask landlords for additional information to demonstrate that they meet their legal responsibilities.

41 page PDF

477.2 kB

41 page PDF

477.2 kB

Contents
Landlord registration: consultation on a review of applications and fees
Part 1 – Prescribed Information

41 page PDF

477.2 kB

Part 1 – Prescribed Information

Overview

When applying to be registered as a private landlord, the applicant must provide certain personal information and limited information about property they rent out to tenants. This is referred to as 'prescribed information' and is set out in section 83(1) of the 2004 Act and regulations made under that section by the Scottish Ministers. A summary of the information required is included at Annex B. This supplements other information that local authorities must consider, under section 85 of the 2004 Act, when they assess whether a landlord is a fit and proper person to let houses.

A person who applies to be registered must declare that the information included in the application is accurate and that they comply with other legal requirements relating to the letting of houses. The information provided may be shared with other local authorities for purposes relating to landlord registration and other relevant authorities, including Police Scotland.

Any evidence that an applicant is not meeting their legal responsibilities as a landlord should be taken into account when the local authority decides whether the application should be approved or refused. If an application is approved, the entry remains on the register for a period of three years. A person can be removed from the register at any time if the local authority decides they are no longer a fit and proper person. At the end of every three year cycle, a new application must be made in order to continue operating legally as a landlord.

Proportionate regulation

Most landlords behave responsibly and want to provide good quality homes and services to their tenants. Any failure to comply with the legal duties related to letting houses may well be due to a genuine lack of awareness of what it means to be a landlord rather than a deliberate avoidance of the law. This is borne out by the outcomes of a recent joint project supported by Shelter, in Dundee and Highland Councils for a Private Landlord Support Officer to provide advice and assistance to landlords. As part of the project Dundee Council developed a checklist to help landlords better understand what their legal responsibilities are when renting out houses.

The Scottish Government considers that the proposals outlined below are reasonable and would complement the work that local authorities do by embedding the provision of advice and support at the outset so that landlords better understand what their responsibilities are. The additional information would also help local authorities to make better informed decisions about the fit and proper person status of landlords.

The legislation is clear that it is the duty of the person making the application to ensure that information provided is accurate, and remains accurate. To provide false information is an offence. Local authorities are responsible for the scrutiny and assessment of the information given in the application form. A risk based approach may be taken to the request for any additional evidence to support the application. For example, the local authority may currently decide that it is not reasonable to ask every applicant to provide physical documents relating to gas/electrical safety and that a sample check of applications is sufficient. A landlord may, however, be asked to provide relevant documents if the local authority has concerns about the accuracy of the information provided or the safety of the property. A local authority has the power to obtain information under section 97A of the 2004 Act for the purpose of enabling or assisting it to carry out landlord registration functions.

Proposal - to expand prescribed information

The consultation proposes that applicants are required to confirm whether they comply with the following requirements relating to letting houses:

  • property meets standards that apply to it ( i.e. the Tolerable Standard and the Repairing Standard);
  • property meets the specific requirements relating to gas, electrical and carbon monoxide safety;
  • there is a current Energy Performance Certificate for the property and it is available to tenants;
  • property advertisements include details of the landlord registration status and EPC rating;
  • owners of flats within a tenement are aware of their responsibilities in relation to common repairs and have appropriate buildings insurance;
  • owners of houses in multiple occupation have an HMO licence;
  • risk assessments for Legionnaire's disease have been undertaken and findings acted upon as necessary;
  • the implications of renting houses for mortgage, insurance and tax purposes are understood;
  • tenancy deposit protection is applied when a deposit is taken.

Further information about the requirements proposed for inclusion in the prescribed information is included at Annex B.

To help applicants understand the legal responsibilities relating to letting houses they will be signposted to information on the relevant standards, before being allowed to complete their application. Provision can be made to allow for applicants to say why a duty does not apply. For example, property may not require an EPC or a landlord may not take a tenancy deposit. The same process would apply to any properties that are added to a registration after the initial application has been approved.

If the local authorities have concerns that a landlord does not meet their legal duties, they should provide appropriate advice and assistance about good letting practice to help the landlord meet the requirements of registration. Many local authorities already provide this type of support, but where letting practice does not improve to meet the required standards local authorities should consider refusing the application.

Question 1a: Do you think that landlords should have to confirm whether they comply with each of the requirements specified above? Please explain your answer

Yes / No / Unsure

Please tick only one box and explain your answer below.

Comments

Question 1b: If not, which requirement(s) do you think landlords should not have to confirm that they comply with and why?

Please explain your answer below.

Comments

Question 1c: Do you think that landlords should be required to provide evidence of compliance with any of the requirements specified above?

Yes / No / Unsure

Please tick only one box and explain your answer below.

Comments

Question 2: What other questions, if any, do you think should be included in an application for landlord registration?

Please explain your answer below.

Comments

Energy Performance Certificate rating

Scottish Ministers have powers under section 64 of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 to require the assessment of a property's energy performance, and for the owner to take action to improve the energy efficiency and environmental impact of a property. The Scottish Government consulted in 2017 on proposals for improving energy efficiency and condition standards in the private rented sector. Scottish Ministers have confirmed that minimum energy efficiency standards will be introduced, and that these will be confirmed as part of the routemap for Scotland's Energy Efficiency Programme, which will be published in May 2018.

To support the enforcement of the minimum standards, once introduced, applicants could be asked to provide information on the EPC rating of the property when confirming that there is an EPC. The 2017 consultation also proposed situations where the landlord may have a longer time frame to improve the property, or would only need to make some improvements, for example for technical or legal reasons – if exceptions are confirmed then provision could be made to allow landlords to provide details of any agreed reason as part of the application process.

Question 3: Do you think that landlords should be asked to provide the domestic EPC rating for property?

Yes / No / Unsure

Please tick only one box and explain your answer below.

Comments

Proposal - Miscellaneous amendments to prescribed information

Contact information

Paragraph 11 of the current Schedule asks for details of the contact address in connection with day to day management of property included in the application. This is in addition to information required by the 2004 Act about an applicant's home address and also the correspondence address that must be displayed on the public register. The additional requirement to ask applicants for a contact address leads to confusion as to where the landlord should be contacted and where information, including from the local authority, should be sent.

In order to clarify and streamline the registration process, one option would be to amend the legislation so that only the applicant's home address and a correspondence address are required. The correspondence address would be the address that anyone searching the register can use to contact the landlord and that local authorities can use to send out information to the landlord.

An applicant can specify what address they want correspondence to be sent to. The address given can be the landlord's home address, agent's address, or an alternative address. The online application enables an applicant to nominate a different address for individual properties, for example if properties are managed by different letting agents and the applicant wants correspondence to go to the agent.

Question 4: Do you think that the applicants should only be required to provide a home address and a correspondence address?

Yes / No / Unsure

Please tick only one box and explain your answer below.

Comments

Other contact details

Applicants are not currently required to provide an email address (unless using the online system), a home telephone number or mobile telephone number. Local authorities can post correspondence using the address provided by the landlord but it is often more convenient and cost effective to contact landlords by email or phone. For example, local authorities often use email addresses to meet their legal duty to provide advice and assistance to all registered landlords by sending updates when the law changes or to notify them of local landlord events. A phone number is also useful when trying to contact landlords who need to renew their registration.

Question 5: Do you think that applicants should be required to provide an email address, home and mobile phone number (if they have one)?

Yes / No / Unsure

Please tick only one box and explain your answer below.

Comments


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