Since mandatory landlord registration was introduced by the Antisocial Behaviour etc. (Scotland) Act in 2004, the information required to be provided by applicants has remained minimal. For a fee, landlords in Scotland are required to register their rental properties with each local authority that they are let in.
Previously, the applicant only had to state: their name and address; the property to be let in the local authority area; details of the letting agent (if any) and how to contact them. Scottish Ministers felt that the application needed strengthening to reflect an increased focus on housing standards and the quality of property management.
The prescribed information that landlords must supply when applying or renewing has been added too. Landlords will now be required to declare that they are complying with certain duties, such as providing the tenant with a copy of the EPC and that the property meets the Tolerable Standard.
The rules will apply to all new registrations and renewals from 16 September 2019. Existing registrations will not need to provide the additional information until renewed. Registrations remain valid for three years.
Once registered, landlords receive a unique Landlord Registration Number from the relevant local authority. This must be included
in all property advertisements. Where the registration has not yet been approved, advertisements must include the wording “landlord registration pending”.
It is the responsibility of the local authority to enforce landlord registration in the area. Civil offences where the landlord fails to supply information, provides false information, or once registered information changes and the local authority is not informed, will mean that the landlord is liable to a fine of up to £1,000. This includes information about the letting agent instructed by the landlord.
It’s a criminal offence to let property in Scotland without applying for registration, or when it has been refused. This could result in a fine of up to £50,000, and the court may disqualify a convicted landlord from being registered for up to five years.
Local authorities also have the power to issue un-registered landlords with a Rent Penalty Notice, meaning they cannot collect any rent or fund from the tenant whilst it is in force.
How does this affect letting agents?
As the requirement is placed on landlords to register themselves, agents should inform their clients of the new rules for registration. Where the property is managed by a letting agent, this will mean that the agent will need to ensure that they are providing their landlords with the correct information in order for them to complete the application process. Agents will also need to make sure that landlords have the details of the agent correct, as these will also need to be provided to the local authority.
Agents may be required to inform landlords that the property meets:
- The Tolerable Standard
- The Repairing Standard
- The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations
- The Water Intended for Human Consumption (Private Supplies) (Scotland)
- Regulations (where there is a private water supply)
That the tenant has received a copy of:
- The Energy Performance Certificate
- The Gas Safe record
- The Electrical Inspection Condition Report
If the property has been advertised:
- That it included the landlord’s registration number
- That it included the EPC indication
If the property is in a tenement:
- That there is buildings insurance in place
- That the applicant is aware of their common area repairing and maintenance obligations
If the property is an HMO:
- That it is licensed
- Legionella risk assessments have taken place
- Details of any steps taken as a result of the assessment
If the tenancy falls under the Tenancy Deposit Scheme Regulations:
- That the deposit has been lodged with an approved scheme
- Or will be lodged within the relevant time frame
In May 2016, a Glasgow landlord and his letting agency were removed from the Register and issued with a rent penalty notice for retaining almost £7,000 in tenant’s deposits.
In May 2017, a landlord in Fife received a Disqualification Order for 12 months and was removed from the Register following six criminal convictions for failing to comply with mandatory landlord duties.
In November 2018, nine landlords in Glasgow were removed from the Register for failing to meet legal obligations. Three of these landlords were also barred due to their criminal convictions.