The Letting Agent Code of Practice (Scotland) Regulations 2016
This time next year letting agents in Edinburgh will be preparing for the introduction of enforced letting agent regulation becoming a reality across the country. Under The Letting Agent Code of Practice (Scotland) Regulations 2016 any agent managing residential property in Scotland will have to register via the Scottish Government’s Register of Letting Agents by 31st January, 2018 in order to continue their practice.
The code sets out the standard of practice and conduct expected of letting agents across 8 key areas in the lettings process, which must be adhered to and will be enforced through the new First Tier Tribunal. The 8 sections are:
- Overarching standards of practice
- Engaging landlords
- Management and maintenance
- Ending the tenancy
- Communications and resolving complaints
- Handling landlord and tenant money, and insurance arrangements
Why is regulation important in lettings?
Although there are many regulations surrounding the lettings industry in Scotland – particularly in areas such as gas, electric and fire safety and landlord registration – there are currently no regulations covering the practice of actually being a letting agent, meaning that anyone can currently set up a letting agency and manage properties without adhering to regulations or a code of conduct. There are currently over 200 letting agents operating in Edinburgh, only a small percentage of whom are regulated.
Using a regulated letting agent means increased investment protection for landlords, whilst ensuring that both landlords and tenants are treated fairly and protected against bad practice. Read more on the importance of regulation in the lettings industry. At Clan Gordon we are already regulated by both RICS and ARLA, read about our agency regulation here.
What does this mean for Edinburgh letting agents?
In order to join the Register of Letting Agents at least one person from every letting agency (a minimum of one person per office) will be required to have a level 6 or above qualification on the Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework – such as NFoPP Level 6 Technical Award in Residential Letting & Property Management.
The relevant qualification must include training on the following:
- Legal obligations relating to letting agency work
- The rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants
- Landlord and tenant money handling
- Arranging, managing and ending a tenancy
- Managing repairs and property maintenance
- Customer communications and complains handling
- Equality issues
In instances where the qualification was gained more than 3 years previously, the letting agent will be required to have completed a minimum of 20 hours of training (including 15 hours of formal training) over the previous 3 years.
All staff at Clan Gordon currently have, or are working towards, their Level 6 Technical Award in Residential Letting & Property Management.
Professional Indemnity Insurance and Client Money Protection will also be requirements for agencies joining the register.
What does this mean for Edinburgh landlords?
In our 2016 Landlord Satisfaction Survey 97% of landlords confirmed that it is important to them to use a regulated letting agent, highlighting the desire for a more regulated lettings industry.
At the moment, in an industry where regulation is not the norm, some landlords are working with letting agents who are not qualified or adequately insured to manage their properties, risking significant financial losses. The introduction of the code of practice early next year will increase the level or professionalism, and hopefully drive up standards across the industry as a whole, creating a better and safer market for both landlords and tenants.