Scotland Regional Meetings

Aberdeen | North East

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Glasgow | West | Dumfries

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Inverness | Highlands | Islands | Argyll

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Edinburgh | Fife | Central | Borders

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Adrian Sangster

January 2018

Hogmanay has been and gone, and the stereotypical view of Scots is that January is spent in the throes of recovering from the subsequent hangover. Letting agents in Scotland are certainly feeling punch-drunk at the moment, however this is nothing to do with the new year festivities..

Having spent the final quarter of 2017 preparing for the end of Short Assured Tenancies and the introduction of Scotland’s new Private Rented Tenancy, agents are now gearing up for the introduction of the Letting Agent Regulations (LAR) on 31 January 2018.

The LAR introduces a new letting code of practice which is a set of rules that all letting agents must follow to make sure they are delivering high levels of services to their landlord and tenants. The code explains the minimum standards a letting agent must have when dealing with landlords, marketing properties, carrying out property management, handling client money, dealing with repairs and ending a tenancy.

Furthermore a register of letting agents will be opened and all businesses or individuals carrying out letting agency work will need to join it if they want to continue trading.

The register is administered by the Scottish Government. ARLA Propertymark members have nothing to fear from the LAR and should welcome its introduction because many of the standards set out in it, we already adhere to.

It should level the playing field for the industry and ensure those less scrupulous agents (who we all know are out there) are legally obligated to meet statutory minimum standards if they want to continue to trade. Before any agents can be added to the register, the Scottish Government has to decide whether those people in charge of the business are ‘fit and proper’ to carry out letting agency work. To decide whether someone meets the ‘fit and proper’ criteria the Scottish Government will consider a range of information including whether they have any criminal convictions or whether they have broken housing laws. In addition to those in charge, other key people working in the business also need to prove they’ve had a minimum standard of training. The legislation does not state specifically which job roles within an agency are required to hold one of the two qualifications accepted by the Scottish Government, leaving it up to business owners to decide.

Agencies accepted on to the register will be provided with their own unique number which must be added to all communications and marketing material. The Scottish Government has also recently confirmed how much it will cost to apply to get on the register: an agency with one office will pay a three yearly fee of £495, two or three offices £595; and four or more £700. The Scottish Government is encouraging all those involved in the industry to report any agents who are not registered. I’m sure I won’t be the only agent keeping an eye on my less scrupulous competitors to make sure they’re on the register!

Adrian Sangster MARLA
ARLA Propertymark Regional Representative
adriansangster@arla-reps.co.uk

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