Before you apply for registration, or to renew your current registration, you should make sure that:
- anyone in your business who needs certain qualifications has them
- anyone whose qualification is more than 3 years old when you apply or renew has also completed additional training
- your business has put steps in place to meet the requirements of the Code of Practice
- all your staff understand the Code of Practice
- you hold professional indemnity insurance (read section 8, paragraph 130 of the Code)
If your business holds or handles client money, or intends to hold or handle client money, you should also make sure that you:
- have at least one separate and dedicated client bank account (read section 8, paragraph 118 - 122 of the Code) to hold client money
- hold client money protection (read section 8, paragraph 126 of the Code)
As part of the application you'll be asked to give proof that your business has met key parts of the code and has met the qualification and training requirements.
The Letting Agent Code of Practice
The Code of Practice sets out the standards all those doing letting agency work must meet. It came into force on the 31 January 2018.
The Code says lettings businesses must have written procedures in place for things like:
- collecting and handling rent on a landlord's behalf
- managing repairs and maintenance
- managing the ending of the tenancy
- handling client money
- handling complaints
If you need help creating these written procedures for your business, the Scottish Association of Landlords website has 9 model procedures available for free.
What you need to do
You must make sure you meet the obligations in the Code. If you do not, tenants and landlord can apply to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) to resolve a dispute.
The 'fit and proper person' test
Scottish Ministers will have to decide whether anyone applying for registration is a 'fit and proper person' to carry out letting agency work.
If you're applying as a sole trader, Scottish Ministers will assess you to decide whether you are a 'fit and proper person'.
Scottish Ministers will also need to do a 'fit and proper person' test on any other person who is (or will be) directly involved in the control and governance of your letting agency work.
If you're applying on behalf of a company, partnership or other type of organisation Scottish Ministers will probably need to do a 'fit and proper person' test on a number of people in the company as well as the company itself.
These people are:
- the person who holds the most senior position in the organisation's management structure
- any other person or business who owns 25% or more of the business
- any other person or business who is (or will be) directly involved in the control or governance of the business's letting agency work
If your organisation also does more than letting work, the person holding the most senior position may work in an area other than lettings. They may be someone who is not based in Scotland, if your organisation is UK-wide or international.
Everyone who needs to pass a 'fit and proper person' test will be required to give certain information about themselves before you can submit your application.
The information you need to give
When you apply for registration, or to renew your current registration, you will be asked to give information about yourself and your business. Examples of the types of information you may need to give includes:
- your contact details
- what type of organisation you are
- information about those people in charge of your business
- whether you belong to an industry or professional body
- if you have been convicted of certain offences
This information will help Scottish Ministers to decide if:
- you can join the register and carry out letting agency work
- they should renew your registration so that you can continue to carry out letting agency work
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