With the possibility of England introducing a landlord registration scheme we thought it wise to keep an eye on the scheme in Scotland. Any new scheme may be influenced by the Scottish scheme introduced in 2004 with a view to improve standards in the private rental sector.
Scotland has therefore launched a review of the current landlord registration scheme. The government suggests that there is evidence that the current application process is not robust enough to ensure that all landlords understand and comply with their legal responsibilities. The consultation therefore seeks views on proposals to ask for additional information about compliance with legal duties.
At present landlords are only required to make a general declaration that they meet their legal responsibilities for letting a property. The consultation proposes to expand this general declaration to a more specific declaration to include specific responses to questions such as:
- does the property meet the specific requirements relating to gas, electrical and carbon monoxide safety;
- is there a current Energy Performance Certificate for the property and is it available to tenants;
- confirmation that the implications of renting houses for mortgage, insurance and tax purposes are understood;
- confirmation that tenancy deposit protection is applied when a deposit is taken.
It is important to note that Scotland is also planning on introducing a minimum EPC rating for rental properties (MEES in force in England now). It is with that in mind that landlords will be asked additional questions relating to EPCs.
Furthermore, landlord registration fees have not been increased since 2006. The consultation also seeks views on increasing the fee to reflect the additional work and costs for local authorities administering the scheme within an expanding private rental market. The market has increased from 5% to 15% over the last 10 years and fees consist of the principal fee of £55 and a property fee of £11 (per property). The proposal is to increase these fees to £70 and £14, respectively. There are additional fees but for the purposes of this post we have only referred to the main 2 charges.
If the scheme is launched in England we expect costs to be higher and the application process more detailed. The number of landlords in England are far greater than those in Scotland so any fees, procedures and processes will need to reflect that.