Letting agencies are subject to a separate legal system in Scotland from the rest of the UK. In Scotland, it is illegal for letting agencies to charge you for certain things before you agree to rent a property. For example, they cannot charge you for registering with them or for providing you with a list of properties and they cannot ask for a deposit before they have found you a property.
Once the agency has found you a property, they are entitled to ask you to pay a deposit, but they have no legal right to ask you to pay any other charges. They may ask you to pay fees for credit checking or administrative work, however these charges are premiums and are unlawful.
The SNP Scottish Government also recently introduced the tenancy deposit scheme, which is a scheme where deposits are held by an independent third party to provide protection for tenants. Three schemes are now operating Letting Protection Service Scotland, Safedeposits Scotland and My Deposits Scotland. The legal duties on landlords who receive a tenancy deposit are to pay deposits to an approved tenancy deposit scheme and to provide the tenant with key information about the tenancy and deposit.