05 August 2010

Landlord Registration Awareness Campaign

landlord registration 2

Index:

Landlord registration is a legal requirement

Since April 2006 it has been a legal requirement for private landlords to register with their local authority. To date there are around 30,000 landlords and agents on Edinburgh's public register. If you are thinking of renting privately it might be a good idea to check the public register to find out if your prospective landlord has registered.

The public register

The public register is a database of the private landlords who have registered with the Council. The information it contains includes the address of the let property, the landlord's name and their contact address, or the address of their letting agent if they use one. Registration is a legal requirement and comes under the Antisocial Behaviour (etc) Scotland Act 2004, Part 8. In order to be registered the landlord must be assessed by the Council as a 'fit and proper person'. They must declare criminal convictions and concerns about a landlord reported by the public, other Council Departments and external agencies are taken into account.

How to check if a landlord is registered

You can check if a landlord is registered by viewing the online register at www.landlordregistrationscotland.gov.uk.

Detailed guidance on using the website can be found in the leaflet 'Do you need to contact a private landlord?' (pdf format).

Search produces 'No results'

If you search the online register and see 'no results' against the let property then the landlord has either made an application and it is being processed, or an application has not been made.

In Edinburgh you can contact Landlord Registration on 0131 469 5293 or by emailing landlordregistration@edinburgh.gov.uk and they will let you know if an application has been made. Alternatively write to: The City of Edinburgh Council, Landlord Registration, 500 Gorgie Road, Edinburgh, EH11 3YJ, or contact EHAP for assistance.

What happens if a landlord is not registered?

If a landlord is neither registered, nor in the process of registering, it is an offence for them to let out a property. Instructions on how to register are set out in the leaflet 'How do I register?' (pdf format) or you can find further information online at www.landlordregistrationscotland.gov.uk. A landlord can only be registered if they are assessed by the Council to be a 'fit and proper person'.

What does it mean to be a 'fit and proper person'?

Local Authorities in deciding whether an applicant is a fit and proper person to act as a landlord must consider, among other things, whether the applicant has "contravened any provision of the law relating to housing, or landlord and tenant law".

A brief list of some of the key issues is set out below.  If you require further clarification check www.betterrentingscotland.com, contact the Council, or seek advice from EHAP or your solicitor.  The exact obligations depend on the type of tenancy or occupancy arrangement in place.

  • The tenant must be given details of the landlord's name and address.  Where an assured or short assured tenancy exists, a written agreement must be provided.
  • If the tenant does not leave when they are asked to, the landlord must use the correct legal procedures for seeking possession of the accommodation.  Ultimately the landlord may require a Court Order.  Under the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984, it is a criminal offence to evict a tenant unlawfully, or to use harassment to try to make them leave.
  • Various rules apply to the charging and handling of rents and deposits:
  • No charge must be made for a person to have their name put on a list for accommodation or for drawing up or copying the tenancy agreement.
  • If a deposit is required, it must be no more than the equivalent of two months' rent.
  • If rent is paid weekly, the landlord must issue a rent book and enter a receipt for each weekly payment.
  • The tenant cannot be required to pay rent before the start of the rental period to which it relates.
  • Proper procedures must be followed before changing the amount of rent to be charged.
  • The landlord must keep the fabric of the accommodation wind and watertight and generally fit for human habitation.  The landlord must make sure that water, electrical and gas installations and appliances for heating the house and water are kept in good repair.
  • The landlord must ensure gas fittings and flues are maintained in a safe condition, an annual safety check is carried out on each appliance, all installation, maintenance and safety checks are carried out by a gas installer registered on the Gas Safe Register, records of each safety check are kept for at least two years, and a copy of the gas safety certificate is issued to the existing tenants within 28 days of the check being completed or to any new tenant before they move in. (Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.
  • The landlord has a duty to make sure that the electrical installations and appliances provided as part of the let are safe to use (Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994).
  • All furniture and furnishings provided by the landlord must comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988.
  • The landlord has a requirement that "the house has satisfactory provision for detecting fires and for giving warning in the event of fire or suspected fire".  An existing smoke alarm may be mains or battery powered, but a smoke alarm installed from 3rd September 2007 onwards requires a mains powered smoke detector.
  • The landlord has a duty to provide an Energy Performance Certificate, and must provide the tenants with a copy by making this a fixture within the building.  European Directive introduced in Scotland on 1st May 2007.
  • The landlord must comply with any statutory notices regarding the property.
  • The owner of an HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) must hold a licence from the local authority and must comply with the conditions of that licence.
  • The landlord must not practise unlawful discrimination in, or in connection with, the carrying on of any business.

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