Following public consultation in 2018, the Scottish Government is introducing changes that will require landlords to declare whether or not they comply with specific duties. This will supplement the general declaration about compliance, and will provide local authorities with more helpful information to help them decide whether a landlord should be approved or not. Subject to the Parliamentary process, the change will come into force on 16th September 2019.

As part of SafeDeposits Scotland's commitment to encouraging best practice across the private rented sector, here we provide further information from the Scottish Government on the change to landlord registration. It is important to note that there are no new duties for landlords and so this change should have a minimal impact on those who already meet the existing standards.

Why is the change happening?

The overarching purpose of the change is to make better use of the landlord registration process to contribute to improving standards across the private rented sector. Asking for more information about compliance at the point of application will:

- raise awareness about landlord responsibilities;
- identify where further advice or support for landlords may be required;
- ensure that local authorities are better informed to carry out the fit and proper person test;
- improve confidence that anyone who is approved and entered onto the register is a suitable person to let houses.

How will this be enforced

These changes are a starting point for improving practice in the private rented sector, based on an assumption that the majority of landlords want to provide well managed, good quality and safe homes for their tenants. The Scottish Government is working with local authorities to develop a good practice approach to scrutinising and validating the information that landlords provide. For example, landlords may be asked to provide evidence of compliance as part of a sample check of applications.

Improving compliance at the point of application will help to address any issues at an early stage and reduce the need for local authorities to intervene later on. Enforcement activity can then be targeted at those landlords who deliberately operate outside the law and really bring the sector into disrepute.

How does this affect landlords?

The new application journey will include questions about the following obligations:

- the Tolerable and Repairing Standards
- fire and carbon monoxide safety
- gas and electrical safety
- private water supplies and legionella risk assessment
- energy performance certificates
- insurance and common repairs on tenement property

Late application fees

On the subject of landlord registration, we also provide here a re-cap on late application fees...

It is a legal requirement for most private landlords to register with their local authority. Once registered, this lasts for a period of three years. If you are still operating as a landlord at the end of that period, you should renew your registration.

A late application fee is charged if an application is made, only after the local authority has made two requests for an application to be made. This applies to landlords who have failed to renew registration and those who have not been registered before. The fee is currently £130.

In many cases the fee is charged at renewal due to an oversight by the landlord, rather than a deliberate avoidance of registration. To help landlords minimise the risk of having to pay a late application fee, please note the following advice from the Scottish Government:

- Firstly, if you are required to register but haven't, please do so.
- For those that are registered, renewal reminders are sent by e-mail at 90 days and 30 days before expiration. This offers a three month window in which to renew your registration without incurring a late fee.
- Always keep your landlord registration e-mail and contact address details up to date. E-mail and postal reminders are issued based on the details held in the register.
- E-mails can sometimes end up in a spam or junk folder. Please remember to check these mailboxes so that reminder notices aren't missed.
- You can easily check your registration expiry date, in a single local authority area or across multiple registrations, using the online system and taking the renew/update journey. The summary page at the start of the "Your Registration" journey will list all your registrations, expiry dates and let properties.

Further information

If you are not sure that you meet your landlord responsibilities you should seek further information. Many local authorities have developed checklists for private landlords (and tenants) so you may want to check out your council's website.

Other useful sources of information are the Mygov.scot and Renting Scotland websites, and representative organisations such as the Scottish Association of Landlords and Landlord Accreditation Scotland.