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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 May, 2004, 17:19 GMT 18:19 UK
Private landlords to need licence
New houses
All rented properties will need to be registered
Councils could get new powers to ban rogue landlords from renting flats after MSPs backed plans for a national private sector licensing scheme.

Thousands of private landlords face new vetting procedures to be entitled to let their properties.

Plans were inserted into the Anti-Social Behaviour (Scotland) Bill by the Holyrood's Communities Committee.

All Scotland's 160,000 private rental properties would have to register with the local council.

Residential property

The local authority could refuse to grant a licence on a variety of grounds including past convictions or a failure to tackle anti-social behaviour.

The licence would have to be renewed at an unspecified fee every three years, although landlords could be deregistered at any time.

Registration decisions could be appealed to a sheriff, and those letting a residential property without a licence could face fines up to 2,500, or lose their entitlement to rental income.

Opposition parties voiced concern that such a major policy was being inserted into the legislation towards the end of the Stage Two process of its passage through parliament.

The bill had originally proposed registration just in areas with a history of trouble - to allow landlords to be tracked down when there are problems.

But deputy communities minister Mary Mulligan said the Executive now agreed the new powers should be introduced universally.

Public consultation

Legislation already exists to vet owners of house of multiple occupancy (HMOs) - where there are three or more unrelated tenants.

They require a licence which is subject to compliance with strict health and safety regulations.

Nationalist and Green MSPs backed the move in principle, but warned that it had not been subject to the normal public consultation since it had not been in the bill published by ministers at Stage One.

They - along with Tory committee member Mary Scanlon who voted against the plan - had argued that it would be better introduced and debated in a future housing bill.

But Ms Mulligan said that might not be passed until 2007.

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