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Landlord awarded £16,000 in damages by First-tier Tribunal in Scotland

Tuesday 23 February 2021

The Scottish First-tier Tribunal has ordered two letting agents to pay £16,000 compensation to their former landlord client after their activities were found to be unregistered and in breach of code.

The agents based in Kilmarnock, Allan Bate and Kevin Valentine of Stirling Property Shop (SPS), had been carrying out letting agency work unregistered while securing a tenant for their client John Brown, a local builder and first-time landlord.

Valentine had originally met Brown while working at another agency in the town. After leaving that agency to start up SPS with Bate, they eventually found a tenant for Brown’s property.

A deposit was lodged with an authorised tenancy deposit scheme and the new tenant initially paid their rent; however, Brown became concerned that the property was not being looked after and he had suspicions it had been converted into a cannabis factory.

The property was eventually raided by the police which unearthed significant modifications for large scale cannabis growing, totalling £65,000 worth of damage. Furthermore, personal belongings with a value of several thousand pounds had been stolen from a secured room which had not formed part of the let.

Brown decided to take the agents and SPS to tribunal which found that the agents had carried out letting work whilst unregistered as per the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014, awarding him £10,000 in compensation. He was awarded a further £6,000 from SPS for breaches of the Letting Agent Code of Practice because of the late return of the deposit and the management of the property.

A growing problem

Criminals across the UK are increasingly using more inventive ways to acquire properties for cannabis factories and to conceal them.

In December 2019, Propertymark reported on four men who rented multiple properties in order to set up cannabis farms. The men provided false documents under fabricated names to letting agents when renting the properties. Many criminals also use a ‘front couple’. These people will appear to be a genuine, respectable couple, but once the property has been rented, they will disappear without a trace and replaced by criminals who convert the property for cannabis cultivation.

Visit the CrimeStoppers website to learn how to spot the signs of cannabis cultivation.

Ensure you do your due diligence

Since 1 October 2018, it has been a criminal offence to carry out letting agency work in Scotland if an agent has not been approved by the Scottish Government for The Letting Agent Register.

The register ensures a welcome element of professionalism in the lettings industry whilst also providing added protection for landlords and tenants. Propertymark and Propertymark Qualifications support the register and has a range of qualifications, documents, training and webinars to help letting agents comply with the regulations.

Find out more