How To Avoid Legal Pitfalls When Renting Your Property In Scotland
There have been many changes in Scottish legislation related to the private rented sector the past year, much of it not particularly well publicised. It seems the appetite for legislation in the private rented sector by the Scottish Executive has not been satiated and there will undoubtedly be more to follow in the future.
It is easy for Landlords to be unwittingly caught out by new laws so it is always worth keeping abreast of developments to keep you on the straight and narrow, especially if you don't use a professional letting agent. One of the most effective ways of keeping up to date is by joining an organisation such as Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) or Landlord Accreditation Scotland. The added bonus of joining an association is the availability of good advice and training opportunities as well as providing tenants evidence that you take your responsibilities seriously.
Tenant Deposit Scheme
The final deadline for landlords to transfer tenant's deposits to a legally required tenancy deposit protection scheme has now past. Recent figures up to the end of March show that there are around 130,000 deposits submitted to a scheme but there are over 290,000 properties signed up for landlord registration. While some landlords will have decided not to take a deposit, the figures show that a worrying number of landlords have not registered their tenant's deposits and are breaking the law.
It is vital that landlords do register deposits as should tenants find out that it has not been done, they can raise proceedings in the Sheriff Court against their landlord who will face a fine of three times the deposit amount.
Tenant Information Pack
As of 1st May this year, it is a legal requirement for landlords to provide tenants with a tenant information pack (TIP) before they move in (or sign a new lease). The TIP is a standardised document which is intended to provide tenants with information on the tenancy and responsibilities of all parties involved. It is not designed to replace other good information which is often provided to tenants by landlords or agents. Failure to provide a TIP can result in a £500 fine for the landlord and tenants are being encouraged to report landlords not providing the correct information.
When advertising property for rent in Scotland, it is now a legal requirement for the landlord to display their Landlord Registration Number and the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) on all adverts including electronic advertising, newspapers and any form of written advertisement to the public. Non-compliance of these rules can result in financial penalties of up to £500.