Landlords urge strong enforcement of new letting agent rules

Scotland’s largest landlord membership organisation has urged landlords, tenants and other letting agents to quickly report any non-compliance with new regulations governing letting agents in the Private Rented Sector (PRS).

SAL has welcomed the new regulations and urged letting agents, landlords and tenants to report non-compliance as well as calling on the Scottish Government to act quickly to educate and punish transgressors.

All letting agents must be registered with the Scottish Government.  Letting agents are also required to comply with the letting agent code of practice.  The code includes; bans on any discrimination; requirements around adequate and timely information; regulations regarding fees and service charges for landlords; the need for clear terms of business and advertising standards; and rules to protect tenant and landlord money. Crucially, it also requires that key members of staff in letting agent businesses hold an approved qualification.

SAL is concerned that if the regulations are not enforced it will give free rein to criminal or rogue agents to provide sub-standard accommodation and a poor service to tenants, whilst driving responsible, ethical and professional agents out of the sector.

The register of letting agents will be kept and maintained by the Scottish Government and it will be easy to check if an agent is on it.  SAL is urging landlords, tenants and other letting agents to report suspected incidents of non-compliance in order to protect themselves and ensure a strong, effective PRS in Scotland in the longer term.

John Blackwood, chief executive of SAL, said: “Campaigning for increased professionalisation of letting agents is something SAL has campaigned strongly for over the years and we are delighted it is finally coming into force.  Prior to this, almost anyone could put up a sign in a high street, call themselves a letting agent and sell their services to unsuspecting landlords and tenants.

“However, for this regulation to be effective, everyone involved must be quick to check and challenge a letting agent they do not believe is compliant with the law.

“New systems put in place last year make it much easier to make a complaint about a letting agent through the Housing and Property Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal (FTT).  This new judicial process is simple and straightforward, you can represent yourself and applying is free of charge.  Organisations such as SAL and our sister organisation, the Council of Letting Agents (CLA) are also on hand to help our members with any concerns or questions they might have.”