There is now an impending deadline fast approaching at breakneck speed on the 1st October 2018. Yes, that's correct. As the turn of the month falls before us and as we enter the autumnal season, if you are conducting letting agency work in Scotland and have not applied to join the Register of Letting Agents through Registers of Scotland then please be forewarned as all individuals involved in letting agency work must comply with the Letting Agent Code of Practice as well as having applied to the Register by this date!
These new regulations have aimed to increase the standards within the letting agency sector. The Register will be made available for public viewing in the hope of affording tenants greater protection, security and confidence through enabling those within the rented housing sector to independently check that their letting agent provider has been verified as registered and has suitable qualifications and credentials.
Unsure if you are subject to the requirements of the Register? Well, the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 gives provision that Letting Agency work generally refers to:
'Work carried out for a private landlord who wants to let their property out to a tenant or management of a property which is rented out or planned to be rented out to a tenant.'
Before applying there are certain conditions that must be met and these are worth consideration. An applicant must pass the Fit and Proper person test and must also have a relevant qualification (a minimum of SCQF level 6). Furthermore, there is also a requirement to hold client money in a dedicated client account and an applicant must hold professional indemnity insurance.
That aside, it cannot be stressed highly enough that the impending deadline is of the utmost importance. It should be highlighted that the Scottish Government have stipulated that the qualification requirements must be met prior to an application being submitted so if you believe that you do not meet these qualifications and require further training then the hard cold message is to refrain entirely from carrying out work in this sector without completing the requisite training and application process.
There lies a grave risk of serious repercussions being made against individuals who are not on the register that carry out letting agency work after 30th September 2018 including a fine of up to £50,000 and a sentence of six months imprisonment or both. So it really is the last call for letting agents. Hopefully, professionals who work in this sector will have taken the correct measures to stay on the right side of the law.