There are several ways for landlords and letting agents in Scotland to become accredited. By becoming accredited, landlords can show tenants that they are reputable. Accreditation shows that you are exceeding the minimum legal requirements and it could help tenants to choose between landlords.
In Scotland there is no compulsory regulation of letting agents. Some are qualified chartered surveyors and therefore compelled to be regulated by a professional body (the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, RICS – see RICS' leasing and letting digest), whilst other firms are licensed or accredited in some other way. Most private landlords need to be registered with their local authority, so make sure you do this.
The three membership organisations shown below can all offer tenants means of redress if one of their members is found to have not kept to the standards of the organisation. They each have their own standards or code of practice for their members – if you’re a landlord and use a letting agent you could ask them if they are members of any of these or other accreditation or professional bodies. If you're a tenant you could ask your landlord or letting agent if they are accredited by these or other bodies.
Both landlords and letting agents can be accredited by Landlord Accreditation Scotland (LAS). LAS provides core standards as guidance but there is no enforcement of these standards.
This is a professional body for letting agents. The Association of Residential letting Agents (ARLA) provides a self-regulation model for the industry.
Membership of the Ombudsman scheme is open to estate agents and lettings and property management agents. The TPO tries to help resolve disputes between letting agents who have joined the scheme and their tenants in a fair, free and independent manner.
Landlord registration is a system that helps councils monitor private landlords and ensure that they are suitable people to let out property. Before any person or agency is registered, the council will have to check that the applicant is a fit and proper person to let property.
All private landlords now have an obligation to apply to the local council for registration. If they haven't registered, or haven't applied for registration, it's a criminal offence if they continue to let out property, and a landlord can be fined £50000.
As a landlord, HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) are the best people to speak to about tax. You will be treated as running a business if you are letting out one or more properties. The HMRC have a range of resources to help you get started and keep you right on everything from expenses you can claim, capital gains tax to paying tax on an overseas property. You can also contact HMRC using the HMRC online contact form or you can phone them on 0300 200 3300.
My Property income and HMRC - recorded webinar (approx 20 minutes) You can watch this short film from one of the HMRC's experts in tax for landlords. Here is some of what it covers:
HMRC also run 'My property income and HMRC' as an interactive webinar so attendees can ask questions. It's free and you just need a computer with internet access and maybe headphones. They offer a lot of webinars about being self employed
You can report previously undisclosed taxes on rental income to HMRC if you’re an individual landlord renting out residential property, via the Let Property Campaign.