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SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT INTRODUCES DRAFT CODE OF PRACTICE FOR LETTING AGENTS

Now try and restrain your excitement, I know you have been waiting with baited breath for this but, at last, here it is, (drum role please):

Now try and restrain your excitement, I know you have been waiting with baited breath for this but, at last, here it is, (drum role please):

The Scottish Government have released a draft code of practice for letting agents. The Letting Code of Practice (Scotland) Regulations 2016 which should come into force on 31 January 2018.

The Letting Agent Code of Practice (Scotland) Regulations 2016 has been structured in eight sections to mirror the lettings process and sets out the standards expected of letting agents operating in Scotland in how they manage their business and provide their services. 

The eight sections are:

  • Introduction
  • Overarching standards of practice
  • Engaging landlords
  • Lettings
  • Management and maintenance
  • Ending the tenancy
  • Communications and resolving complaints
  • Handling landlords' and tenants' money, and insurance arrangements 

Now those who are regular readers of my blog or know me will also know that I am not a fan of legislation for legislation sake (which is what we seem to get a lot of in this industry). 

What’s worse I am (and remain), extremely sceptical of the justification that is always trotted out by our lords and masters that this (whatever the latest legislation is) will drive the “cowboys” out of the industry, raise standards, bring peace on earth etc. Yes just like making driving whilst using a mobile phone illegal stopped people doing that. As I’ve said before and not doubt will again “legislation without enforcement is always ineffective”.

Having said that and whilst I’m sure bigger brains than mine will take this draft apart, I can’t find that much to object to. Indeed most reputable agents will probably already be fully or largely compliant with it, Belvoir Dundee certainly is.

So all in all I don’t (you will be amazed to learn), have an issue with this. Where I have concerns is the “mandatory training” element, e.g. who is going to provide it and what will the cost be? But also having been on some of these courses I find that they are often run by people with no grasp of what actually happens in real life and as soon as you throw them a “what if” scenario they fall apart.

Secondly the enforcement element, e.g. will it “do what it says on the tin” and raise standards etc. Frankly whilst I hope I am proved wrong my experience is that the less desirable letting agents (just like every other industry) will be one step ahead in finding ways to get round it. I know the local authority are fully aware of the “bad” agents/landlords in Dundee (like every other city) but they lack the resources and maybe the political will to target them specifically, certainly to the degree they might like to and which would have a major positive effect.

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