Could the regulation of letting agents affect you?
The Scottish Government is in the process of preparing to implement a new scheme for the mandatory regulation and registration of letting agents in Scotland, under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014. The Act’s definition of ‘letting agents’ is very broad and could therefore affect a number of Scottish solicitors and their firms or organisations.
A letting agent is a person (which includes sole traders, partnerships, companies and other entities) who carries out letting agency work.
The Act defines letting agency work as:
‘Things done by a person in the course of that person’s business in response to relevant instructions which are-
(a) Carried out with a view to a landlord who is a relevant person entering into, or seeking to enter into a lease or occupancy arrangement by virtue of which an unconnected person may use the landlord’s house as a dwelling, or
(b) For the purpose of managing a house (including in particular collecting rent, inspecting the house and making arrangements for the repair, maintenance, improvement or insurance of the house) which is, or is to be, subject to a lease of arrangement mentioned in paragraph (a).’
(This definition contains a number of terms defined elsewhere in legislation – see, for example, sections 61 and 62 of the 2014 Act).
If you think you or your firm/organisation may carry out letting agency work as defined in the Act, it is important you let us know via this link by 11 February 2015 so we can gauge how many Scottish solicitors and firms/organisations may potentially be affected by the regulations.
The new regulations are expected to include:
- Mandatory registration of all letting agents (which will be subject to a fit and proper test) - carrying out letting agency work without appropriate registration will be an offence
- Training requirements
- A scheme for monitoring compliance and enforcement
- A complaints regime
- A code of practice
Depending on the level of interest, we might form a small working party, enabling you to have your say on the detailed proposals contained in the draft regulations. Your views could also help form a response on behalf of the Society, showing the solicitor perspective. This could be submitted to the Government to influence the final regulatory model. If you are interested in joining a working party on this subject and having your say, please let us know by 11 February 2015.
For further information on the legislation see the Scottish Government’s website.