MSPs make recommendations to improve Private Tenancies Bill

Jim Eadie MSP
Jim Eadie MSP

The general principles behind a bill that aims to introduce a new single tenancy for the private rented sector and have been given support from a committee of MSPs, though some suggestions for improvements have been recommended.

Introduced to by the Scottish Government in October last year, the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill is set to replace the current system of private tenancies in Scotland.

The legislation would see the existing short assured tenancy and assured tenancy replaced with a single new tenancy, known as the private residential tenancy, which the Scottish Government believes will provide appropriate safeguards for landlords, lenders and investors.

The bill also aims to provide tenants with protection against excessive rent increases and provide rent predictability, including the ability for Scottish ministers to introduce caps on rent increases for sitting tenants in Rent Pressure Zone.

In its Stage 1 report published yesterday, the Scottish Parliament’s infrastructure and capital investment committee made a number of recommendations aimed at improving the bill, based upon the balance of evidence received.

These include asking the Scottish Government to give further consideration to the balance between mandatory and discretionary grounds for the removal of a tenant and to look at options for allowing Purpose Built Student Accommodation to set tenancies for agreed terms.

The report also asks ministers to consider a longer period to repay rent arrears and whether penalties to deter landlords from terminating tenancies falsely are sufficient.

Finally MSPs have recommended that suitable amendments are brought forward at Stage 2 to allow those in abusive relationships to leave a tenancy without facing financial penalties.

Committee convener Jim Eadie MSP said: “The need for good quality affordable housing is clear and is an issue that affect individuals, families and communities right across Scotland.

“The Scottish Government has sought to introduce a bill that strikes an appropriate balance between the rights of tenants and the rights of landlords, taking account of changes to the housing market and housing provision in recent times.

“It is the committee’s view that this balance has been largely achieved. However we call on the government to consider amendments at the Stage 2 process to ensure that the end result is one which takes in to account the legitimate issues raised in our evidence taking sessions.”

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