Blog: letting agents need to get in gear
As the Scottish Government publishes new guidance on the registration of letting agents in Scotland, CIH Scotland's new blog highlights the importance of planning ahead for the September 2018 deadline.
It’s been nearly three years since the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 was passed – a milestone for the social housing sector abolishing the right to buy in Scotland. While right to buy may have stolen the headlines, the private rented sector was also treated to measures which will change the way that the sector works in Scotland.
The Act requires all letting agents operating in Scotland to join a register. Like landlord registration, letting agents will have to pass a fit and proper person test to be entered onto the register. Unlike landlord registration, letting agents will also have to abide by a statutory Code of Practice and certain members of staff will have to have undertaken training which for many will include gaining a qualification at SCQF level 6 or equivalent.
The Scottish Government has published a simple guide to help people navigate the requirements. And it is relatively simple - except the bit that explains who the regulations apply to. The Act requires all individuals or organisations that carry out “letting agency work” to register and this means that some individuals or organisations that do not necessarily identify themselves as letting agents will be caught by the regulations. Do you look after a flat for a friend or relative who rents it out but is living abroad? You might need to register as a letting agent.
There will be implications for the social rented sector as well. While local authorities and RSLs are excluded from the requirements, subsidiaries that carry out “letting agency work” may have to register. Whether or not a subsidiary has to register will depend on how the business is structured and the exact nature of the work being carried out. The official guidance from the Scottish Government is, if you are unsure, to seek independent legal advice.
The deadline for registration has been set for 30 September 2018 which seems a long way off – until the need for training is factored in. The regulations state that the training requirement must be met before the letting agent can apply to register. While the Scottish Government’s best estimate is that there are around 1,700 letting agents operating in Scotland, it is difficult to know the exact number or how many staff from each of these organisations will be expected to undergo training.
Our advice would be to plan ahead. Does your organisation need to register? If so, you will need to establish which members of staff need to be trained and allow enough time for this to be completed alongside your ongoing business requirements.
In preparation for letting agent regulation, CIH Scotland has developed the LETWELL training programme in partnership with Landlord Accreditation Scotland. This programme is specifically designed to meet the requirements set by the Scottish Government and to promote good practice within the sector. Details of the LETWELL programme can be found online.
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