Letting agencies are private companies that can help you find private rented accommodation that suits you. Most agencies also manage the day-to-day running of the tenancy.
What do letting agencies do?
Letting agencies act as 'go betweens' between tenants and landlords. They can:
help you find suitable property to rent
collect your rent on behalf of the landlord
arrange for any repairs to be done.
Why use a letting agency?
There are several advantages to using a letting agency:
the rent you'll be paying will usually be fair for the area
all legal requirements, for example fire safety measures, are more likely to be met
if something goes wrong, a letting agent is more likely to sort it out for you promptly.
Letting agent registration
From 2 October 2018 all letting agents have to be signed up to the Scottish Letting Agent Register. If a letting agent is not on the register then they cannot operate as a letting agent.
If your letting agent is not on the register then they are committing a criminal offence and could face a £50000 fine, up to 6 months in prison or both.
Find out more about letting agent registration.
The Letting Agent Code of Practice
The code practice is there to help tenants and landlords understand what they should expect if they rent a property through a letting agent.
Under the code a letting agent must:
Carry out their business in a way that complies with all appropriate legislation.
Be honest, open, transparent and fair in their dealing.
Provide information in a clear and accessible way.
Apply all procedures and policies consistently and reasonably.
Carry out services provided using reasonable care and skill.
Make sure all staff and any subcontractors comply with the code and any other legal requirements
Keep records to show that a they have met the requirements of the code.
Make sure that all private information is handled sensitively and in line with legal requirements.
Respond to all enquiries and complaints within reasonable timescales and in line with any written agreements.
Inform the appropriate person promptly of any important issues or obligations in the use of the property..
Not unlawfully discriminate against a landlord, tenant or prospective tenant on the basis of age, disability, sex, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief or sexual orientation.
Not to provide information that is deliberately or negligently misleading or false
Not communicate in any way that is abusive, intimidating or threatening
If you think your letting agent is not complying with the code, you should complain, in writing, to the letting agent. The complaint must be dealt with inline with the letting agent’s complaints procedure. If you are still unhappy after the letting agent has responded to the complaint you can apply to the First Tier Tribunal Housing and Property Chamber.
Find out more about the Letting Agent Code of Practice.
How do I find a letting agency?
Don't go with the first letting agency you find: shop around. Make sure any agency you choose is a member of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) or accredited by the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) or Landlord Accreditation Scotland or the Council of Letting Agents and also that it is registered with the council.
You can find letting agencies listed in the Yellow Pages and on the NALS website. You can find letting agencies in your area on the Citylets, s1homes or Zoopla websites.
Last updated: 2 October 2018
Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.
This content applies to Scotland only.