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.

Relevant businesses

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
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Fees

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 lettingagentregulation@gov.scot.

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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:

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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.

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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
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Penalties

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'.

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Key legislation

Housing (Scotland) Act 2006

Private Rented Housing (Scotland) Act 2011

Tenancy Deposit Schemes (Scotland) Regulations 2011

Housing (Scotland) Act 2014

Letting Agent Code of Practice (Scotland) Regulations 2016

Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016

 

Last reviewed / updated: May 2019

Please note

This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.

The guide's 'Key legislation' links may only show the original version of the legislation, although some amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Information on amendments to UK legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab; amendments to EU legislation are usually incorporated into the text.

Feedback

Consumer enquiries from England, Scotland and Wales are handled by the Citizens Advice Consumer Service who can be contacted by telephone on 03454 04 05 06. Consumer enquiries in Northern Ireland are handled by ConsumerLine who can be contacted by telephone on 0300 1236262. Call charges may vary.

Business enquiries are dealt with by your local council. Use the Chartered Trading Standards Institute's postcode finder to locate your local trading standards team.