Letting agents take action to drive rogues out of business
Letting agents from across Scotland will today start signing up to a new programme of compliance with government regulations with the aim of raising standards and driving rogue operators out of the market.
Developed by Landlord Accreditation Scotland (LAS) and the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), the ‘Let Well’ programme includes registration and training for those working in the sector.
The programme will begin accepting applicants at The Agency Business conference.
Organised by the Council of Letting Agents (CLA) of the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL), this event in Glasgow will be attended by over 200 letting agents, responsible for the management of around 20,000 properties across Scotland, along with providers of professional and maintenance services to the industry.
Speakers include Kate Faulkner, one of the UK’s leading property experts and Paul Shamplina, who has more than 25 years in the legal field helping landlords with problem tenants. But it is the introduction of new regulations governing the sector, a move which letting agents themselves campaigned for, to level the playing field against cowboy players in the market, which will draw attention.
The regulations were officially proposed in January 2015 following years of lobbying by letting agents who were concerned that nothing could be done to prevent unscrupulous individuals setting up businesses, the poor practices of which have damaged the reputation of letting agents as well as that of the overall private rented sector (PRS).
The roll out of the new regulations has already begun and will include:
- Mandatory registration of all letting agents
- Carrying out letting agency work without appropriate registration becoming a criminal offence
- Mandatory training
- A scheme for monitoring compliance and enforcement
- A complaints regime
- A code of practice
Registration is already open to letting agents, with training courses expected to commence over the summer. Both the registration and training will be mandatory in 2018.
Amanda Wiewiorka, chair of the CLA policy group, said: “I am delighted that we have had such amazing interest in The Agency Business event this year, with agents responsible for the management of over 20,000 properties expected to attend.
“In particular, I am delighted to have seen the launch of the ‘Let Well’ programme which will enable letting agents to comply with the new regulations governing their operation. This will help eliminate bad practice and professionalise the sector to the advantage of agents, landlords and tenants alike.”
John Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords, said: “With additional tax burdens from government, the margins for responsible landlords and letting agents are constantly being squeezed. If we want an effective PRS to provide high quality homes, we must ensure the overwhelming majority of the market which adheres to high standards, cannot be undercut by substandard players.”
LAS director, Elspeth Boyle, added: “LAS is committed to growing the professionalism and celebrating the achievement of the highest standards among letting agents and landlords. We are delighted to be collaborating with the CIH on the Let Well programme. This programme will not only assist participants to satisfy the Scottish Government’s new registration requirements, it also highlights for employers an individual’s commitment to best practice and high professional standards as a housing professional working in letting.”
CIH Scotland executive director, Annie Mauger, said: “Significant and rapid growth means Scotland’s private rented sector now accounts for more than 1 in 3 of all rented homes. In that context, ensuring that professionals associated with the private rented sector adhere to the highest standards is more important than ever.
“CIH is the home of professional standards for people who work in housing and this is a great opportunity for landlords in the private rented sector to work with us and get access to the best housing practice through our member network.”