1st October has been and gone, and if you're a letting agent operating in Scotland your application for the Scottish Letting Agent Register should have been submitted before that deadline. It's the latest key date in what has been a significant year for letting agents in Scotland, with the publication of the Letting Agent Code of Practice back in January.

The Code of Practice, as one would expect for such an important document, covers many bases - we're sure you've already read it, and chances are you'll refer to it again on future occasions. As Scotland's leading tenancy deposit scheme, we highlight here a selection of points from the Code of Practice that are particularly relevant to our day to day and which - when followed - will help letting agents, landlords and tenants alike enjoy an altogether smoother experience in the tenancy deposit process...

Communication is King

Section 2 (Overarching standards of practice), point 18 reads "You must provide information in a clear and accessible way." The sharing of information with both landlords and tenants is a recurring theme in the Code of Practice. See also Section 4 (Lettings), point 43: "You must give prospective tenants all relevant information about renting the property..." and Section 4, point 64: "At the start of the tenancy, you must give the tenant a copy of the tenancy agreement along with any other relevant statutory documents." Good communication from the onset of a tenancy helps put everyone on the same page.

Get into the detail

Communicating is one thing, what you're communicating is another. Section 4, point 62 is one of the lengthiest in the Code of Practice - and with good reason. It states a number of examples along with its main thrust "If you prepare a tenancy agreement on the landlord's behalf, you must ensure it meets all relevant legal requirements and includes all relevant information and any specifically negotiated clauses agreed between the landlord and the prospective tenant. The agreement must also include the landlord's registration number." Ensuring all details are covered - for example expectations surrounding upkeep of communal areas - may go a long way to preventing disputes. Point 68 in the same section is about producing an inventory. If things do go wrong and something is damaged, a detailed inventory describing and showing the original condition of the property will help your case significantly when requesting all or part of the deposit repayment is made to the agent or landlord.

Don't let time run away

Section 2, point 21 states "You must carry out the services you provide to landlords or tenants using reasonable care and skill and in a timely way." Section 5 (Management and Maintenance), point 90 reads "Repairs must be dealt with promptly and appropriately having regard to their nature and urgency and in line with your written procedures." Alongside the clear and most important factor of tenant health and safety when it comes to addressing repairs within an appropriate timescale, there's an element of mutual respect - neglect a property and, rightly or wrongly, the tenant may wonder why they should show it any TLC of their own. On a separate note, but still very much in relation to time, is point 66 - "If you lodge tenancy deposits on a landlord's behalf, you must ensure compliance with the legislation." Part of that legislation requires the deposit to be paid into a tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days of the tenancy beginning. Failure to do so could result in the tenant going to the First-tier Tribunal, who may instruct that the tenant is awarded up to three times the value of the deposit.

SafeDeposits Scotland has dedicated teams for agents, landlords and tenants. If in doubt about any obligations relating to tenancy deposits, contact us on 03333 213 136 or email info@safedepositsscotland.com

You'll also find a wealth of information, including guidance documents, elsewhere on our website.