As from the 1st October 2018, all letting agents operating in Scotland have to compulsorily join the Scottish Letting Agent Register and follow their Letting Agent Code of Practice.
Any agent in Scotland currently carrying out letting agency work, if they wish to continue doing so, had to submit an application to the Scottish Letting Agent Register last week. From then on it will be a criminal offence, with a potential £50,000 fine or face up to six months imprisonment, if agents continue to trade illegally, until their application has been determined.
Following the move it will become mandatory to have experience and hold professional qualifications in the lettings industry to occupy key roles in an agency. This is to be determined as part of the registration process. All registered agents will be required to have undergone appropriate training and become qualified in the various aspects of property letting and management.
In England, agent’s registration has always been resisted up to now on the premise that it restricts free trade and it is a cost to the taxpayer, relying instead on voluntary redress schemes and codes of practice. Despite this, inroads are slowly being made, with complaint and compulsory arbitration, plus client money protection (CMP) schemes.
In Scotland, post the registration deadline, key individuals in each agency, in a management or supervisory role, must meet a minimum standard of training. Those who have to be qualified as part of the registration process must have a relevant qualification covering the essential aspects of letting agency work.
For example, The National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) offers an accredited course resulting in a qualification which meets the new Scottish agent’s registration requirements. It comprises of three modules, each with a test at the end, and a final end test.
This qualification is accredited by the Northern Council for Further Education (NCFE), a national awarding organisation. Candidates who successfully complete the course will be awarded an NCFE certificate.
The new rules aim to improve standards in the letting industry in Scotland, to make sure that agents are aware of the letting and safety rules and regulations and are proficient in handling clients’ personal data and monies paid to them by tenants’ on their principal, their landlord client’s behalf.
Persons will be authorised by the Scottish Ministers to undertake an inspection regime which will depend on the reason for the compliance visit. The Scottish Ministers may involve suitably qualified professionals or experts in the industry to undertake, or be a part of, any inspection.
For example, an issue involving finance my result in a inspection led by a chartered accountant or other circumstances may result in the involvement of the Trading Standards or even the Police.
The Scottish government is advising tenants and landlords to check that their agent is now registered in the scheme.
Register here: https://lettingagentregistration.gov.scot
Scottish letting agent code of practice – here
Regulation of Letting Agents Monitoring Compliance and Enforcement Framework – here