Agents and landlords using holiday letting ‘are breaking the law’

Agents and landlords in Scotland who are letting properties and declaring them to be holiday lets to avoid long-term tenancy rights are breaking the law, a property management company has warned.

Apropos by DJ Alexander said that many agents and landlords believe that using holiday lets as the basis for their renting agreement sidesteps many of the tenants’ rights for tenure but, in fact, this is untrue. Tenants’ rights become legally binding if the property they occupy is their principal place of residence regardless of the contract which was signed at the start of the tenancy.

David Alexander, joint managing director of Apropos by DJ Alexander, said: “Many landlords and agents see holiday lets as a means of letting properties whilst ignoring the recent legislative changes in Scotland on the rights of the tenant. However, this is incorrect as tenants’ rights apply if it can be shown that the property is being used as a home, rather than for short term holiday purposes. Even if no contract is signed, the tenancy automatically defaults to a Private Residential Tenancy Agreement if both parties have knowingly entered into a long term, residential arrangement.

“The only area of ambiguity comes in the definition of what is a holiday let and whether the tenant and landlord, at the time of letting, believes this will be the tenants’ home or simply a temporary place to live for a limited period.”

A report published last month by tenants’ union Living Rent found that landlords are abusing Airbnb-style “holiday let” contracts to evade their responsibilities to tenants, some of whom are staying in their properties for up to 10 months or more.

Agents and landlords using holiday letting ‘are breaking the law’

David Alexander

David added: “There is no legal loophole being exploited as the law already protects tenants in these circumstances. If they live in a property which is advertised as a holiday let, but it is viewed as their permanent residence then they have the same rights as any long-term tenant.”

“It would appear that many tenants and some organisations are unaware that this is the case, but the rights of the tenant remain firm regardless of the contract they have signed and agents and landlords who seek to avoid this legislation are misguided.”

He concluded: “It is very disappointing that many landlords and agents still believe that providing stronger rights for tenants is a bad thing. Landlords and agents must realise that they are providing a home and you need to treat people as you would anyone in their home. Greater clarity on letting lengths would be useful to define what is a holiday let but clearly there are not many people booking a holiday home for six or even three months, especially if they have no other address, so the law should regard these lettings as the home of the tenant and protect their rights accordingly.”

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