Skip to main content

Regulating Letting Agents in Scotland

By: Shelter Scotland  Published: May 2013


This Shelter Scotland briefing sets out the case for regulating letting agents in Scotland, considering the key features of a well regulated sector.

Summary

  • Scotland’s private rented sector is changing. The private rented sector is growing, nearly doubling in the last 10 years to 290,000 households.  With the increasing numbers of tenants and changing profile of landlords, letting agents have an important role to play in this sector.
  • Professional responsible letting agents see little reward for playing by the rules.  A number of schemes and bodies in operation are available to promote best practice from letting agents; however agents are not required to follow them.  There is no requirement for professional expertise or experience – anyone can currently set themselves up as a letting agent.
  • Landlords, as well as tenants, are exploited by unregulated letting agents. Tenants and landlords currently using the letting agent sector are experiencing  problems with the sector, including poor and unscrupulous practice from some letting agents, a current lack of financial protections for both tenants and landlords and no way of resolving complaints that may arise.
  • The property industry supports change. A number of key stakeholders across the sector including the Property Ombudsman, the Association of Residential Letting Agents and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, believe we need regulation of letting agents to protect both tenants and landlords and to make the system fairer and more consistent.
  • Regulation should be proportionate and fair. Shelter Scotland recognises that regulation will place a burden on the industry. We believe the key features of well regulated letting agent sector in Scotland would be as follows:
    • There should be an independent regulatory body grounded in Scottish Law.
    • There should be a formal, mandatory code of conduct for letting agents.
    • Any scheme should protect both landlords’ and tenants’ money.
    • Regulation should ensure that landlords can be confident that their property is well managed and legally covers their responsibilities as a landlord.
    • Regulation should be accessible and customer focused and should protect tenants who are unfamiliar with their rights.
    • There should be an independent redress scheme to deal with disputes that arise.
    • Duties carried out by letting agents should be proportionate and should ultimately ensure they contribute to a well run and efficient industry.