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Letting Agent Registration - (Less than) A Year To Go!

Letting Agent Registration - (Less than) A Year To Go!

Regular readers of our blog will be aware that the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 made provisions for the mandatory letting agent registration, regulation and training requirements in Scotland.

The Letting Agent Registration (Scotland) Regulations 2016 were laid before the Scottish Parliament in December 2016 and will come into force on 31st January 2018.

The Regulations require the most senior person in a letting agency business (unless they have no input into the letting agency's day-to-day running) and all persons directly concerned with managing and supervising of a business letting agency work to comply with the training requirements. There must also be at least one person per office who has met the training requirements.

Such persons must hold a relevant qualification attained within 3 years of the date of the application. The relevant qualification must be at, or equivalent to, level 6 or above on the Scottish Credit Qualifications Framework. Where the qualification was attained more than 3 years ago, persons will be required to have undergone 20 hours (comprising of 15 hours formal and 5 hours informal) of training over the previous 3 years on matters including:

  • legal obligations relating to letting agency work and the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords
  • handling of tenants' and landlords' money
  • arranging and managing a tenancy
  • managing repairs and maintenance
  • customer communications
  • complaints handling
  • equality issues

Formal training includes conferences, course and seminars where there is documentary evidence that the person has undertaken or delivered said training.

From 31st January 2018, those engaged in letting agency work must also comply with the Letting Agent Code of Practice. The Code of Practice is set out in The Letting Agent Code of Practice (Scotland) Regulations 2016 and contains general duties including:

  • complying with relevant legislation
  • providing accurate information
  • applying procedures consistently and reasonably
  • dealing with complaints
  • ensuring compliance by employees and subcontractors
  • handling private information sensitively
  • not to unlawfully discriminate
  • carrying out services in a timely fashion and with due skill and care

The code also contains specific requirements on how clients' money should be handled and requires agents to have Professional Indemnity Insurance and Client Money Protection Insurance.

Once in force, landlords, tenants (including former landlords and tenants) or the Scottish Ministers may apply to the First-Tier Tribunal if they have concerns that an agent has failed to comply with the Code.

The Scottish Government are in the process of developing further guidance for letting agents in relation to preparing for registration and the required training. The guidance is expected to be published in late February 2017.

In the meantime, if you require more information on the registration, regulation and training requirements for letting agents or advice on the private rented sector in Scotland, please get in touch with our LetLaw team.

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Written by : TC Young

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