The Landlord Registration scheme has a number of aims. First, it enforces minimum standards in private renting and provides local authorities the ability to remove the worst landlords from the sector amongst other enforcement measures. Second, it enables tenants and neighbours to identify and contact landlords of private rented property. Third, it provides information on the private rented sector in Scotland allowing local authorities to engage more effectively with landlords and tenants
All private landlords must register with their local authority to ensure that they are a "fit and proper person" to let property. It is an offence to let any house without being registered. The maximum fine for operating as an unregistered landlord is £50,000.
Applications for registration can be made through an online registration system. Paper application forms, if preferred, are available from local authorities. Further information about registration is available on the Help pages of the registration website.
Limited information is available to members of the public through the public search facility on the Landlord registration website. On entering a property's address, a member of the public can view:
- name of landlord;
- name of agent (where applicable);
- contact address for the property.
On entering a landlord's name and address, the system confirms whether or not that person is registered, or whether an application to be registered has been made but not yet determined, and whether an application has been refused or revoked but will not list their properties.
Telephone numbers and email addresses are not made available through the website. These are only used for the local authority to contact the landlord with any queries about an application.
Other information, such as the landlord's home address or a list of rented properties in an area, may be provided to enquirers by the local authority if it considers it appropriate. Such requests must be considered in accordance with the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. However, information will not be released if doing so would breach data protection principles.
The purpose of making the register public is to allow tenants and neighbours to make legitimate contact with landlords, for example to report problems or organise common repairs. Only the public contact address selected by the landlord will be available over the Internet. Information is available online because there is an assumption that all public services should be available electronically in order to maximise accessibility.
The Scottish Government is responsible for the provision of the on-line registration website for the 32 Local Authorities. Local Authorities have operational responsibility for the implementation of landlord registration, and the normal contact for issues related to the operation of the website should be the Local Authority for the area in which a property is being registered.
Guidance for local authorities is available on this website, and the online system is available for them to receive applications and maintain their registers.
Changes to Existing Legislation
The Private Rented Housing (Scotland) Act 2011 introduced a number of amendments to the law governing the landlord registration regime. From 1 April 2013 the following changes came into effect:
- local authorities must provide landlords with their registration number when advising them that their registration has been completed.
- Increased information available on the public register to show whether an application to be registered has been made but not yet determined, and whether an application has been refused or revoked.
- Giving a court power to disqualify a person operating as an unregistered landlord from being registered as a landlord by any local authority in Scotland, for up to five years.
- Allowing a local authority to require a person associated with a house to provide information relating to landlord registration.
- Requiring the Private Rented Housing Panel to notify details of landlords to a local authority where an application is made to the panel by a tenant relating to the repairing standard.
- From 1 June 2013 there will also be a requirement for landlord registration numbers to be included in written advertisements of properties to let. Further details of all of the legislation behind landlord registration can be found on this web site.
When an application for registration is approved by a local authority it is valid for three years. If a landlord is still letting then they should apply to renew their registration prior to the expiry date being reached. If a registration expires and is not renewed then the relevant local authority will consider the landlord as no longer registered and may take enforcement action. This could include applying a late application fee.
Landlords can apply to renew their registration online up to three months before their current registration expires on the Landlord Registration website. Local authorities will also issue reminders when registrations are due to expire.
Applicants using the online system should therefore find the renewal straightforward. Applications made online receive a 10 per cent discount. All applications (paper and online) must be paid at the point they are submitted, there will be no facility for requesting an invoice.
Antisocial Behaviour Powers
Local authorities also have powers to take action against landlords who fail to manage their property so as to minimise antisocial behaviour from tenants.