Following the launch of the new Private Residential Tenancy regime last month, which replaces the previous tenancy system and ends “no-fault” repossessions, more changes are ahead for the Scottish PRS this year, focusing on the regulation of letting agents.
From early 2018 the Scottish Government will commence the regulation of letting agents by bringing into force:
- mandatory registration of letting agents – applicants will be required to be assessed as ‘fit and proper’ to undertake letting agency work and meet minimum training standards to be admitted to the letting agent register. Agents need to be registered by 30th September 2018, and the register is expected to open for applications in early 2018. The Scottish Government has produced a registration guide for letting agents, available here.
- a statutory letting agent code of practice which comes into force on 31 January 2018. It sets out the service standards that letting agents must meet and will give tenants and landlords the ability to challenge poor practice .
- a new means of redress to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) – landlords, tenants and Scottish Ministers will be able to go to the tribunal where there has been a breach of the code of practice. Where an agent has failed to comply with the code, the tribunal must issue an enforcement order setting out the steps the letting agent must take to rectify the problem.
Going forward, the Scottish Government is also looking at amending the repairing standards to bring it closer to the standard required in social rented housing, as well as introducing a minimum standard for energy efficiency in the PRS. These plans were recently consulted on and you can read more about that consultation here.