In the biggest change to the private rental sector in a generation, from today December 1st 2017, anyone signing a new tenancy for a private let will sign the new Private Residential Tenancy. All landlord and tenant disputes will be heard in a new specialist tribunal and, from January 2018, all letting agents will be required to register and adhere to a code of practice.
The Private Residential Tenancy will have no end date and can only be terminated by a tenant giving written notice to their landlord or by the landlord using one of 18 grounds for eviction, meaning an end to ‘no-fault’ evictions. Tenants will have the right to challenge a wrongful termination.
Landlords can only increase rent once a year and are required to give tenants three months’ written notice of any rise. Tenants can challenge this rise if they think it is unfair.
Landlords will also benefit from a more accessible repossession process and a simplified way to give notice.
Private Residential Tenancy: Any tenancy that starts on or after 1 December 2017 will be a private residential tenancy. This new tenancy will replace the assured and short assured tenancy and will bring in changes and improvements to the private rented sector, including:
- No more fixed terms – private residential tenancies will be open-ended, meaning your landlord can’t ask you to leave just because you’ve been in the property for 6 months as they can with a short assured tenancy.
- Rent increases– your rent can only be increased once every 12 months and if you think the proposed increase is unfair you can refer it to a rent officer.
- Longer notice period– if you’ve lived in a property for longer than 6 months your landlord will have to give you at least 84 days’ notice to leave (unless you’re at fault).
- Simpler notices– the notice to quit and notice of proceedings processes will be scrapped and replaced by a simpler notice to leave process.
On a visit to see Shelter Scotland’s new online enquiry system and meet with tenants, housing minister Kevin Stewart said the new tenancy will provide greater security and stability for tenants coupled with better safeguards for landlords, lenders and investors.
He said: “The private rental sector has grown substantially in recent years and now provides a place to call home for 760,000 people.
“This is the biggest change to the sector for a generation and will bring about significant improvements in private renting, benefiting both tenants and landlords.
“We want to ensure everyone has a safe and warm place to call home. The new tenancy sits alongside our wider ambitions for housing in Scotland- not least our ambitious commitment to deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes during this Parliament, including that for rent.”
From today, local authorities can apply to the Scottish Government to have an area designated as a Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ) if they think rents are rising too much in a certain area. To do this, local authorities must meet the following requirements.
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Today represents a new dawn for all private renters in Scotland. These new laws bring unprecedented security of tenure to private renters, with landlords now needing a good reason to evict tenants.
“We have campaigned passionately for 10 years now for reform of private renting in Scotland, ending with our Make Renting Right campaign, which had extensive support from the public and local and national politicians. We are delighted that all those voices were listened to and we support today’s changes in the law.
“Shelter Scotland is pleased to be working with the Scottish Government on a major awareness raising campaign to ensure that everyone involved in private renting – from tenants and landlords to letting agents and housing professionals – understand their new rights and responsibilities.”
Help and support – including a new chat-bot called ‘Ailsa’ – is being launched by Shelter Scotland to help explain the changes. It is available at shelterscotland.org/newhouserules.
John Blackwood, chief executive for Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL), added: “We have worked closely with the Scottish Government, tenants groups and charities for a number of years on this new tenancy agreement and believe the final outcome will make life considerably easier for landlords. The improved and clarified grounds for eviction, alongside a clearly defined process which we campaigned for will further help streamline the sector.
“The new clauses will make it easier for landlords to ensure contracts are fully compliant with the law as well as being easier for both them and tenants to understand, hopefully reducing tension and unnecessary disagreements.
“We also hope this will make it easier to identify rogue landlords and drive them out of the sector whilst encouraging the overwhelming number of landlords who act responsibly to play their part in increasing the supply of housing available in Scotland.”
The new Private Residential Tenancy has been introduced under the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016. Existing tenancies will not change automatically. They will carry on until the tenant or the landlord brings it to an end by serving notice.
The Scottish Government has published a model private residential tenancy agreement that can be used by landlords to set up a tenancy.