The private rented sector plays an increasingly important role in Scotland's housing system. Some 700,000 people in Scotland make their homes in the sector: twice the number of ten years ago.
I want to see a sector that is characterised by more good quality homes, being managed more professionally, where tenants feel more secure. Where there are poor standards, local authorities should be taking tough, targeted enforcement to ensure every landlord is fit to let homes to private tenants.
The landlord registration system is a key element of the enforcement regime. It requires each authority to maintain a register of private landlords in its area, and to ensure that only those landlords that it judges to be fit and proper are allowed on the register, and it provides that anyone who rents property when they are not on the register is committing a criminal offence. In these ways, landlord registration gives local authorities the ability to control and regulate who can operate legitimately as a private landlord.
Since its introduction in 2006, the Scottish Government has strengthened the regime by giving local authorities new duties and discretionary powers to tackle poor physical and management standards in the sector.
I don't underestimate the challenge for local authorities of dealing with some 260,000 private landlords registered across the country. However, as the great majority of them are fit and proper persons and provide a service that their tenants find satisfactory, there should be little need for local authorities to routinely monitor their compliance. That frees them to focus on those landlords whose conduct is not satisfactory, and on those who have failed to register or to maintain their registration.
This guidance is intended to help local authorities deliver effective regulation. It highlights, through case studies, how particular local authorities are using their landlord registration powers to deliver improvements in the sector, for example by communicating effectively with all landlords on the register. It also highlights successful working with the police and other agencies to take action against landlords who deliberately flout the law.
I would encourage all local authorities to use this guidance as part of a continuing drive to raise standards and ensure greater consistency in enforcement across Scotland.
Email: Gary Mitchell, Gary.email@example.com
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House