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84% of PRS tenants happy with their accommodation

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Scottish Regulation - start preparing now!

Friday 03 March 2017

The Letting Agent Code of Practice Regulations come in to law in January 2018 and with significant work to do, many agents will already struggle to be ready in time.

Measures within the code include setting up a Letting Agent Register. From January it will be a criminal offence to carry out letting agency work in Scotland if you aren’t on the register. And there are tough penalties for those who don’t comply, with fines of up to £50,000 and prison sentences of up to 6 months for those convicted.

Anyone applying to be on the register will need to meet standards as laid out in a ‘fit and proper person test’. Where landlords or tenants claim that agents are not fulfilling their obligations as stated in the Code they will be able to apply to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) for dispute resolution.

THE AIM OF THE REGULATION

The Government say that the aim of the regulation is to ensure that every agent involved in lettings has the right skills to do the job and meets minimum training standards. 

It’s intended that the Code of Practice will protect landlords and tenants and eradicate poor quality housing. The Government state that it will “help raise standards (where this is needed), and help build a more effective private rented sector that meets the needs of tenants, landlords and letting agents”.

YOUR OBLIGATIONS

Regulation introduces obligations for individuals employed in the industry, along with wider obligations for agencies. All agencies will need to ensure relevant staff are qualified and that staff understand and follow the Code of Practice. They must also hold money in a dedicated client account, belong to a Client Money Protection Scheme and hold professional indemnity insurance.

Individuals involved in managing properties will need to have achieved an SCQF Level 6 or above qualification within the last three years. So far Propertymark Qualifications is one of only two training providers who look set to be approved by the Scottish Government.

The Propertymark Qualifications Level 6 Technical Award in Residential Lettings and Property Management, already widely respected among staff and employers across Scotland, is a practical hands on qualification, which offers many more benefits to practising agents, in addition to meeting the requirements of the code.  

Agents who achieved an SCQF Level 6 qualification more than three years ago will need to provide evidence of relevant, quality top up training.

Daryl McIntosh of ARLA, feels the regulatory framework will be a benefit to the industry “The Scottish Government want to ensure the Private Rented Sector in Scotland is professional and credible. This should provide peace of mind and security to both landlords and tenants alike”.  

ARLA worked closely with the Scottish Government to ensure the coming measures are practical, workable and serve landlords, agents and tenants effectively. Daryl continues: “Agents now need to implement a realistic timetable for training to ensure they meet the requirements come the commencement of the register. 

“While it's essential that all letting agents are professionals offering high standards of service, achieving a qualification should never be a box ticking exercise. Completing the right qualification drives your credibility and equips you with tools to meet the challenges ahead.”

More info on the forthcoming regulations and qualification & training packages