The Letting Agent Code of Practice (the Code) began on 31 January 2018.
This is a set of rules that all letting agents must follow to make sure they give a good service to tenants and landlords.
The Code explains the minimum standards a letting agent must meet when:
- dealing with tenants
- marketing and advertising a property
- managing a let
- collecting rent
- handling repairs
- ending a tenancy
If you're a tenant the Code will help you understand what you should expect when dealing with a letting agent. It will also help you challenge them if you don't think they're meeting the standards in the Code.
Letting agents must make tenants and prospective tenants aware of the Code, and give you a copy if you ask for it.
Register of Letting Agents
Everyone who wants to carry out letting agency work in Scotland needs to be registered before they can do this legally. The Scottish Letting Agent Register (the Register) is run by the Scottish Government.
It is against the law for a person to do letting agency work if they are not on the Register
Letting agents are not allowed to carry out letting agency work while their application to the Register is being assessed. It is against the law for a letting agent to carry out letting agency work until their application to the Register has been approved. This is different to landlord registration, where a landlord is allowed to let property while their application to the Landlord Register is pending.
Before they can add them to the Register, Scottish Ministers will have to decide whether the people in charge of a business applying to the Register are 'fit and proper' persons to carry out letting agency work. Certain key people working in the business also need to have had a minimum standard of training.
To decide if someone is a ‘fit and proper’ person, Scottish Ministers will consider all the circumstances of the case including any material showing that the person has been convicted of offences involving fraud, violence, drugs or firearms or a sexual offence.
Scottish Ministers will also consider whether the person has broken any housing, landlord and tenant or debt laws or failed to comply with the Code.
If they're a registered letting agent, they'll have a unique letting agent registration number that they must put on all their communications and advertising. You can use this number to check whether they're registered. You can also search the Register using a letting agent's name.
Refused and revoked agents
If the Scottish Ministers are not satisfied that an agent meets the requirements to be registered, they must refuse to add them to the Register or, if they are already on the Register but no longer meet the requirements, revoke their registration.
Where the Scottish Ministers refuse to enter an agent in the Register or revoke an agent’s existing entry, this fact will be shown on the Register for 12 months after the date of final refusal.
Once an agent’s registration has been refused or revoked, they cannot get back any costs or charges incurred relating to letting agency work carried out in the period after the date their registration was refused or revoked.
Agents must renew their Registration every 3 years. Agents will be taken off the Register if they do not renew their registration before the deadline, or if Scottish Ministers decide the agent is no longer carrying out letting agency work.
You can check the list of agents who have been removed from the Register for these reasons.
If the agent your landlord uses isn't on the Register, or their registration has been removed, refused or revoked, you should contact your landlord as soon as possible to find out what arrangements your landlord is making to manage the property.
If you do not have your landlord's contact details, please contact your local authority's landlord registration team.
Get more information on the Register of Letting Agents and what steps agents have to take before they can be registered.
If you have a problem with your letting agent
If you're a tenant and you're dealing with a letting agent instead of directly with a landlord, there are a number of things you can do if you aren't happy with their work.
Check your tenancy agreement
The first thing you should do is look at your tenancy agreement to find out who's responsible for the service you're having problems with.
For example, your landlord might have decided they want to handle certain parts of the let themselves, like repairs.
Your tenancy agreement should tell you who to contact if you're having a problem.
Check the Code of Practice
Your letting agent has to follow the Letting Agent Code of Practice.
If you've checked your tenancy agreement and it says your letting agent is responsible for the service you have a problem with, check what the Code says about that service.
If your agent has failed to do what the Code says they're expected to do, you can make a formal complaint to them.
Make a formal complaint
You can make a formal complaint to your letting agent if you think they've failed to either:
- do what they agreed to in your tenancy agreement, or
- follow the rules of the Letting Agent Code of Practice
If you're seriously concerned about your letting agent's behaviour, you might want to speak to your landlord directly about it. If they only have a little involvement, they might not be aware of any problems you may be having.
The Code says that all agents must have a written complaints procedure. If you don't know your agent's procedure, they should be able to give you it.
Your complaint should be in writing, and you will need to give the agent a reasonable amount of time to respond.
If your letting agent belongs to a professional organisation or redress scheme, you may also want to make a complaint to them.
Apply to the housing tribunal
If you think your letting agent has failed to comply with the Code of Practice and you can't resolve the problem with them through their complaints procedure (or they don't respond within a reasonable time), you can take your complaint further.
You can do this by making an application to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber).
All letting agents must comply with the Code from 31 January 2018. The Tribunal will consider applications relating to any failure to comply with the Code which took place after this date.
More information on applying to the Housing and Property Chamber is available on the Tribunal website.
You can still take a case to the Tribunal against a letting agent who you think has failed to comply with the Code, even if you are no longer a tenant in that property, as long as:
- the complaint is about something that happened after 31 January 2018
- you were a tenant in that property when it happened.
There's no fee to make an application to the Tribunal. The Tribunal will be informal and the proceedings will be flexible to help resolve issues.
If the Tribunal agrees with your complaint, they can issue a 'Letting Agent Enforcement Order'. This instructs the letting agent to carry out a set of steps to fix the problem and make sure they're following the Code.
It's against the law for a letting agent to not follow the instructions of an enforcement order. They can be prosecuted if they ignore it.
The Tribunal will also let Scottish Ministers know if the letting agent hasn't carried out the order. The agent could be banned from doing any more letting agency work.
All Tribunal decisions will be published on the Tribunal website, along with information about any enforcement order. You can search on the Tribunal website to see whether there have been cases about a specific letting agent.
There is a problem
Thanks for your feedback