Scottish government announce changes to landlord registration in Scotland
Mandatory private landlord registration has been in place in Scotland since 2004. Following a public consultation last year, the Scottish Government has announced that it will be introducing changes to the registration process designed to improve standards in the private rented sector. The changes, which will require landlords to declare whether or not they comply with specific obligations when they register, are likely to come into force in September 2019. The changes should not have a significant impact on landlords who are already meeting the existing standards, but it is nonetheless important to ensure that you are aware of the latest legislation.
Last year, the Scottish Government held a consultation with a view to strengthening the existing system of landlord registration to ensure that homes rented to private rented sector tenants are of good quality and are managed professionally.
The consultation proposed to expand the range of prescribed information landlords must provide to local authorities and proposals for reviewing the current landlord registration fee structure.
Responses indicated broad support for requiring landlords to provide more information about compliance with specific legal duties, in particular relating to property condition and safety.
Landlord Registration – improving standards
Private landlords continue to play an important role in meeting housing need in Scotland, with around 770,000 people having their home in the sector. Landlord registration is vital to improving standards for those who rely on the private rented sector to provide them with a home. As responsible private landlords, there’s an expectation that you understand and comply with the legal requirements of letting homes to tenants.
While the majority of landlords comply with their legal obligations, unfortunately some landlords don’t meet the standards that are in place to protect people and properties.
What is changing?
Information currently available to local authorities when a landlord applies to be registered is limited. Following the public consultation in 2018, the Scottish Government is introducing changes that will require landlords to declare whether or not they comply with specific duties. This will supplement the general declaration about compliance, and will provide local authorities with more helpful information to help them decide whether a landlord should be approved or not. Subject to the Parliamentary process, the change will come into force on 16 September 2019.
What will this achieve?
The overarching purpose of the change is to make better use of the landlord registration process to contribute to improving standards across the private rented sector. Asking for more information about compliance at the point of application will:
- Raise awareness about landlord responsibilities;
- Identify where further advice or support for landlords may be required;
- Ensure that local authorities are better informed to carry out the fit and proper person test;
- Improve confidence that anyone who is approved and entered onto the register is a suitable person to let houses.
How will this be enforced?
These changes are a starting point for improving practice in the private rented sector, based on an assumption that the majority of landlords want to provide well managed, good quality and safe homes for their tenants. The Scottish Government is working with local authorities to develop a good practice approach to scrutinising and validating the information that landlords provide. For example, landlords may be asked to provide evidence of compliance as part of a sample check of applications.
Improving compliance at the point of application will help to address any issues at an early stage and reduce the need for local authorities to intervene later on. Enforcement activity can then be targeted at those landlords who deliberately operate outside the law and really bring the sector into disrepute.
How does this affect you?
- The Tolerable and Repairing Standards
- Fire and carbon monoxide safety
- Gas and electrical safety
- Private water supplies and legionella risk assessment
- Energy performance certificates
- Insurance and common repairs on tenement property
The revised on-line application journey is still under development, using landlord feedback to ensure that the process is straightforward and the questions are easily understood. Signposting to further information will be included to help landlords who are not sure what they need to do. Provision will be made for landlords to declare if a specific duty doesn’t apply.
It’s important to note that there are no new duties for landlords and so this change should have a minimal impact on those who already meet the existing standards.
If you are not sure that you meet your landlord responsibilities you should seek further information. Many local authorities have developed checklists for private landlords (and tenants) so you may want to check out your Council’s website.