In the guide
This guidance is for Scotland
Accommodation letting agents are regulated by the Scottish Government. They need to be registered and must abide by the code of practice.
Letting agency work is defined in the Housing (Scotland) Act 2016 as "things done by a person in the course of that person's business in response to relevant instructions" that are intended to:
- arrange a lease or occupancy arrangement by which an unconnected person may use the landlord's house as a dwelling
- manage a house - including rent, inspection, improvement, maintenance, repair or insurance - that is or will be a lease or occupancy arrangement by which an unconnected person may use the landlord’s house as a dwelling
Letting agents cannot charge fees to a tenant but they can charge fees to a landlord. Letting agents can only charge a deposit and rent; anything else is a letting-agent fee, which is illegal.
Fees that cannot be charged to tenants include the administration costs involved in checking references or setting a lease, service charges, non-refundable holding fees, fees for renewing a tenancy, assignation fees, and charges to add a new person to the lease. Any other fee is also illegal.
For more information, contact email@example.com.Back to top
Tenancy deposit schemes
Letting agents that receive a tenancy deposit must transfer the deposit to one of the three approved deposit schemes. The tenant should be provided with key information, including the name of the scheme and potential retention of the deposit.
The three approved schemes are:Back to top
Registration of letting agents
All letting agents must be registered with the Scottish Government.
- a letting agent must be a fit and proper person who is appropriately trained
- the statutory code of practice must be followed
- a tribunal is available to resolve complains between landlords and tenants
More information on letting agent registration, including how to apply, is available on the Scottish Government website.Back to top
Persons who do not need to register
Please seek legal advice if believe you do not need to register. Some exceptions from the need to register include:
- an estate that lets out its own private properties
- a person who owns their own private property
- voluntary letting of a property for a family member
- preparation of a lease by a solicitor
- a registered social landlord (unless it also manages a property for a private landlord)
- a local council
Failure to comply with trading standards law can lead to enforcement action and to sanctions, which may include a fine and/or imprisonment. For more information please see 'Trading standards: powers, enforcement & penalties'.Back to top
Last reviewed / updated: May 2019