Blog: We’re changing private renting for the better

Housing minister Kevin Stewart

Housing minister Kevin Stewart

With just over a week before the introduction of a new private residential tenancy in Scotland, housing minister Kevin Stewart explains why the changes will benefit renters.

From December 1 a new private residential tenancy will be introduced, giving greater security to tenants and safeguards for landlords.

This new type of tenancy will have no end date and can only be ended either by a tenant giving written notice to their landlord or by the landlord using one of 18 grounds for eviction. Tenants will be also able to challenge wrongful termination.

The tenancy will also provide rent stability and predictability too. Landlords will only be able to increase rent once a year, and will have to give tenants three months’ written notice of any rise. Tenants will also be able to challenge this rise if they think it’s unfair.

But it isn’t only tenants who will benefit. When we developed the new tenancy we worked with landlords and other representative bodies to make sure we took their interests into account. So landlords will benefit from the certainty offered by the new grounds for repossession, which include grounds where the landlord intends to sell the property and where the property has been abandoned.

Both parties will benefit from more standardised tenancy agreements through the model private residential tenancy agreement. Landlords can use this to set up a tenancy, so there’s less paperwork.

By using our model tenancy agreement, with its mix of mandatory and discretionary terms, landlords will be able to easily tailor it while still meeting their legal obligation to provide tenants with all the written terms of their tenancy. Tenants will also benefit from the ‘easy-read’ notes, which accompany the model agreement and make it easier to understand.

Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, your tenancy won’t automatically change next month. Existing tenancies will carry on until either the tenant or the landlord brings it to an end by serving notice to quit the property.

Rent Pressure Zones

As part of the new private residential tenancy, we’re introducing Rent Pressure Zones (RPZ). From 1 December, if a council thinks rents are rising too much in a certain area, they can apply to the Scottish Government, to have that area designated as a Rent Pressure Zone.

A Rent Pressure Zone means that a cap on rent increases is set for up to five years.  Any cap set will be at least the Consumer Price Index (CPI) +1% and will apply to existing tenants with new private residential tenancies.

To do that the council must meet the following requirements and demonstrate the following:

  • rents in the area are rising too much
  • the rent rises are causing problems for the tenants
  • the council is coming under pressure to provide housing or subsidise the cost of housing as a result.

The Scottish Government will consult landlords’ and tenants’ representatives before any area is designated a Rent Pressure Zone.

So it’s an exciting time for private tenancies. Do make sure you’re aware of all the changes so you can take advantage of them and read the guides for landlords and for tenants to find out more about the changes.