Enforcement of private rental regulations to be stepped up by Aberdeen City Council

Extra resources are to be dedicated to the enforcement of regulations governing the private rental sector in Aberdeen.

Members of the Finance, Policy and Resources committee have approved plans to recruit an additional officer to bolster the existing team and enhance efforts to ensure tenants are protected.

Legislation to require licensing and registration of landlords in Scotland was introduced to improve the standards of privately rented properties in Scotland, to improve the rights of those who rent the properties and to ensure their safety. Landlords must ensure their properties meet standards set-out in the regulations.

The Council leads the enforcement in the city, with the power to report breaches of regulations to the Procurator Fiscal.

Aberdeen currently has 34,315 registered landlords and 27,947 registered rental properties, with 1,276 HMO licensed properties and a further 195 pending applications. Whilst it is not possible to say how many unregistered landlords and unlicensed HMOs exist in the city, the Council has received 590 complaints since 2014 in relation to unlicensed activity in the sector.

A team of 14 officers currently serves in the Private Sector Housing Unit in Aberdeen and councillors have agreed to add a further member of staff to increase enforcement capabilities.

The post, for an initial one-year period, will focus on identifying unregistered landlord and unlicensed HMOs using existing Council databases.

Cllr Douglas Lumsden, Aberdeen City Council Co-Leader and convener of the Finance, Policy and Resources committee, said: “It is vital that a clear message is sent to tenants and landlords that we treat the enforcement of regulations as a priority in Aberdeen. By growing the team we will provide reassurance to tenants and will also be better placed to deal with the requirements of the unit.

“We expect the appointment to be revenue neutral, with the salary costs balanced out by the additional revenue generated by increased license fees generated from landlords and properties identified.”

The Aberdeen unit handles and investigates claims and complaints made by members of the public in relation to unregistered landlords and unlicensed HMOs. It also pursues previously registered landlords whose licenses have expired, to determine whether they are still operating, and pro-actively attempts to identify unregistered landlords through Council Tax records. The unit also has a role in reporting to the Licensing Committee any objections or concerns in respect of HMO licence applications and landlord registration applications.