Regulation of letting agents in Scotland to have ‘teeth’

Scottish MPs have voted in favour of the mandatory licensing of letting agents.

They will have to work to a strict code of practice, yet to be drawn up.

The third stage of the Housing Bill was passed without rent controls or mandatory rights to longer tenancies being included, despite pressure from Labour.

However, neither issue has gone away, as both are to be part of an official review into the private rented sector which is likely to be followed by a public consultation.

MPs also voted against amendments, including a ban on rental properties not meeting minimum energy performance standards; a ban on agents who turn away benefits tenants; and restrictions on the amounts agents can charge for rents in advance and deposits.

The issue of minimum energy performance has also not gone away.

Housing minister Margaret Burgess (Scottish National Party) said: “The Scottish Government is pursuing work to develop energy efficiency standards for the private rented sector and will consult on them in 2015. The consultation will invite views on what those standards should be, as well as on the timescale for introducing the standards.”

She also warned that the regulation of agents would have teeth.

She said: “Regulation of letting agents is a landmark. It was good to get the support of the letting industry and landlords’ organisations for the measure. We got that because we worked together with them.

“We listened to what they had to say and took some of it on board, but we made it absolutely clear from the outset that we intended to regulate and that our regulation would have teeth.”

The Bill will also require electrical safety checks to be carried out in rental properties every five years.

It will also bring in a new housing tribunal, which will mean landlords can gain possession of their properties without having to go to court.

The Bill also abolishes Right to Buy. Maureen Watt, SNP, said: “As we know, many right-to-buy properties end up in the private rented sector, where the rents are higher and higher benefit claims can be made.”


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