Tuesday 29 June 2010

Regulation of property factors in Scotland

The Local Government Committee of the Scottish Parliament has made a call for evidence on the Property Factors (Scotland) Bill (the Bill and accompanying documents were drafted with assistance from GLC's Parliamentary and Policy Unit); for further details please see here.  The Scottish Parliament's Information Centre (SPICe) has published a new research briefing on the Bill, which is available here (opens as a PDF).

The SPICe briefing includes experience from the Republic of Ireland, where the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PRSA) has recently been established on an administrative basis. Legislation, currently before the Oireachtas, is intended to establish the PRSA on a statutory basis and will apply to all Property Services Providers (PSPs). PSPs are defined to include all those involved in the purchase, sale and letting of any land or property as well as those involved in the provision of property management services.

Under the proposed legislation, the functions of the PRSA will include operating a licening system covering all providers of property services; setting and enforcing standards for the grant of licences and provision of services; establishing a system of investigation and adjudication of complaints; promoting increased consumer protection and public awareness; and establishing a compensation fund to compensate parties who lose money as a consequence of the dishonesty of a licensee

The PSRA will have power to sanction a licensee up to and including the revocation of a licence and may also impose fines of up to €250,000 where a PSP is found to have engaged in "improper conduct". The Authority may bring a prosecution against a PSP for failing to comply with his or her statutory obligations or against any person providing a property service without a licence which may result in either a large fine or imprisonment or both. Under the new regulatory regime all PSPs are required to contribute to the "Property Services Compensation Fund". Where a person suffers a loss due to the dishonesty of a PSP the Authority may award compensation from the "Fund".

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