Nearly 100 property businesses in Scotland have been investigated for failing to sign up to the letting agents’ register. Compliance letters demanding improvements were issued to two-thirds of businesses. The irregularities were uncovered by the Scottish Government while handling applications for the register.
So far, says the government, 889 applications have been received and 367 agents have been approved. Around 50 applications are from landlords without a client account to separate landlord and tenant cash from the letting agency’s day-to-day account.
The government has reminded letting agents - including those outside Scotland who carry out business there - that they should join the register.
Signing up to the register comes at a cost - starting at £495 for a single office agency to £700 for a business with four or more offices. The registration fee covers three years.
Besides applying for the register, letting agents must put their names to a code of practice and provide evidence that staff who need training for their role possess the required qualification, including managers and supervisors directly involved in letting agency work.
Managers must also pass a ‘fit and proper’ person test, while the business must have client money protection and professional indemnity insurance cover.
Unregistered letting agents commit a criminal offence if they trade in Scotland, which could lead to a fine of up to £50,000 or six months in jail.
Kevin Stewart, Minister for Local Government and Housing said: “We are committed to improving standards across the private rented sector. The regulation of letting agents, including mandatory registration and the Letting Agent Code of Practice, will help us to do this. Registration will give tenants and landlords assurance that agents allowed to operate in Scotland are suitable to do so and have met a minimum standard of training on letting agency work.”