Calling all landlords!

10 July 2012

You may have seen our article back in April about the Scottish Government’s current consultation on unfair rental charges. The proposed reform is just the latest of a number of changes which have affected landlords in the last ten years, many of which are either now in force or will be very soon. It is important for landlords, including those who have been renting out properties for a long time, to be aware of the legal changes and new obligations on them.

Three things to be aware of if you are thinking of renting out your property (or you already do!): 
1.   Getting registered.
The requirement for landlords to register was brought in by the 2004 Antisocial Behaviour etc. (Scotland) Act. Letting out a property without registering is illegal and carries a maximum fine of £50,000. It is worth remembering that tenants can search online to see whether their landlord is registered at any time. For more information and to register, click here.

2.   The Repairing standard and the Private Rented Housing Panel
The Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 states that all properties must meet the ‘repairing standard’ at the start, and duration of, a tenancy. This places various obligations on the landlord in terms of the standard of repair at the property, ranging from an obligation to keep the property wind and watertight to ensuring that any furniture provided is suitable for the use intended. If the property doesn’t meet this standard, the tenant is able to report the matter to the Private Rented Housing Panel which has powers to ensure the required repairs are carried out. For more information, see their website by clicking here.  
3.   Tenancy Deposit Schemes
Many landlords ask for a deposit from their tenant (typically one or two month’s rent) to cover any damage to the property or sums owed to them at the end of the tenancy. Landlords were often perceived to withhold deposits unfairly and new regulations will mean that, rather than holding funds in their own account, landlords will have to place the funds with a third party ‘Tenancy Deposit Scheme’. Should a dispute arise about how much is due back to a tenant at the end of the tenancy, the scheme will have a dispute resolution mechanism to resolve it.
This does not just apply to new tenancies. Landlords who have been holding tenants’ deposits for long periods of time will have to place them with a scheme by a date laid down in the legislation. The first schemes went live on 2 July 2012 and there are various different deadlines for placing funds with them depending on how long the tenancy has been in existence. The deadlines are all in 2012 or 2013. For more information, including the dates that landlords will have to place existing deposits with the schemes, click here.

Inksters can provide independent legal advice to landlords on the whole process of becoming a landlord, from picking the most appropriate type of tenancy to suit your circumstances, drafting up the various documentation required, to advising you when things go wrong. Please contact our Brian Inkster or Louise King on 0141 229 0880 or send Brian or Louise an email.


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