Improving standards in landlord registration
On 16 September 2019, the Scottish Government strengthened the landlord registration process by requiring landlords to provide more information about compliance with specific legal duties.
The new application process now covers the following aspects of letting a property:
• the tolerable and repairing standards
• fire, smoke and carbon monoxide safety
• gas and electrical safety
• private water supplies and legionella risk assessment
• energy performance certificates
• insurance and common repairs on tenement property
• tenancy deposit protection.
Improving compliance at the point of application will help to address any issues about poor landlord practice before the application can be approved. Local authorities will provide help and advice to landlords who are unable to confirm they meet their obligations; however, where a landlord cannot, or will not, achieve the required standards, further enforcement action will be taken. SAL’s chief executive John Blackwood welcomed the changes, commenting: “Bringing visibility of these obligations to the fore via the application process will really help Scotland’s landlords understand their responsibilities and with SAL and the local authorities geared up to provide advice and assistance, this can only be good for the private rented sector in Scotland.”
How will standards be enforced?
It’s important that all private landlords familiarise themselves with the legal duties relating to tenancy management and property condition. Local authorities are currently receiving a higher than expected number of applications where landlords say they don’t meet the standards required by the fit and proper person test.
Landlords appear to be least aware of the duties relating to gas and electrical safety, portable appliance testing, energy performance and legionella risk assessments.
Local authorities are actively engaging with landlords to help them understand and comply with their legal duties. In some cases, this may be the first time that a landlord has considered the safety elements of letting a property.
The Scottish Government is working closely with Landlord Accreditation Scotland to develop a dedicated information resource that will be accessible as part of the online application process for landlord registration.
In the longer term, the Scottish Government is working with local authorities to develop a good practice approach to scrutinising the information that landlords provide. For example, landlords may be asked to provide evidence of compliance as part of a sample check of applications.
The statutory guidance for local authorities on the administration and enforcement of landlord registration will be updated over the coming months to take account of the recent legislative changes, highlight good practice and encourage greater consistency of approach across local authorities.
If you employ a letting agent to manage your property, always be aware that the responsibility for meeting any legal requirements rests with the landlord, even if a letting agent handles the day-to-day running of the property.
SAL has a wealth of resources to help members understand and comply with their responsibilities. Our landlord checklist, which can be found here sets out all the key responsibilities and has hyperlinks to further information and member resources, (members please remember to log in to access our documents).
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