Scottish Landlord Registration – does it work?

Readers Question - Published on 18/05/2017
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There has been some talk about landlord registration or licensing schemes in England, those already operating and those proposed by politicians. I have properties in Scotland where there is a Landlord Registration Scheme in place.

All landlords throughout Scotland are supposed to be registered. I say supposed to be because I know that many are not. The idea, I believe, is that the Authorities can ensure that only people who are of suitable character can rent property.

Sadly it does not work. If you want to avoid all the legislation and requirements currently in place you simply don’t register. The Scottish Authorities seem to be either unable or unwilling to enforce this registration. For those in England I will point out that the cost of registering varies from county to county, but for the county I rent in is £55 plus £11 per property and lasts for 3 years. This is clearly not as burdensome as some charges I have been reading about for some English counties. I think this registration scheme is like many registration schemes before it. The good law abiding citizens register the the rogues do not.

Some time ago I became aware of a flat that had a leaking roof. The then tenant followed all the relevant Scottish procedure to try to get the landlord to fix the leaking roof. Only a patch up job was ever done and the leak quickly returned. He lived with constant damp and mould. Eventually he moved out, but not before the property was subjected to a works order that required the landlord to address the problem properly.

Until the work was done the property could not be let. The property then sat empty for a year. Then a ‘to let’ sign appeared. It was clear to the original tenant that the work on the roof had not been done. He lived in a flat with a view to his old flat. He contacted the council. The ‘to-let’ sign was removed and a for sale sing took its place.

A short while after this a young couple moved in, telling all their neighbours that they had bought this flat. I then happened to come across the flat listed for sale – with tenants in situ. The landlord was not registered and this fact was mentioned to the local council responsible. A registration pending then appeared, then disappeared. Several months on and the flat still has the tenants in place. It is still for sale as a tenanted flat. The work on the roof has still not been done.

I tell this story to show that rogue landlords can and will still operate in a rental market requiring registration. That even when authorities are informed little seems to happen.

Scottish laws are already in place that provide substantial protection for the tenant. Those tenants suffering from bad landlords and the sympathetic politicians and media should look toward those who should be upholding those laws and not attacking the law abiding decent landlords. Increasing the laws and regulations will not change anything if no-one is prepared to enforce them.

As certain sectors of society find it harder and harder to find accommodation the prevalence of unregistered landlords will, I believe, increase. But that is probably another big topic in itself.

I would be interested to hear peoples views on this. I don’t have vast experience as a landlord, but am interested in the twists and turns of the rental market now and the changes that may or may not come along.





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