Plans to protect tenants from eviction and unjustified rent increases

Margaret Burgess
Margaret Burgess

The Scottish Government has launched a consultation into a reform of the laws in the private rented sector which it hopes will remove the fear of eviction and help tenants to assert their rights.

The consultation, which will run until 10 May, proposes an overhaul of legislation on private tenancies, with the repossession clause, allowing landlords to reclaim their property simply because a fixed rental term has ended, to be scrapped.

Landlords will also have eleven modernised grounds to use if they wish to regain possession of their property, including a new ground if they wish to sell.

Meanwhile tenants will be protected against major rent hikes by taking unjustified rises to arbitration.

Specific measures may also be introduced to combat excessive increases in hot-spot areas such as Aberdeen and the Lothians.

This builds on an initial consultation last year, which received over 2,500 responses. Final proposals will be included in a Bill to be laid before Parliament this autumn.

Housing minister Margaret Burgess said: “These changes to existing tenancy laws are designed to improve security for tenants and provide safeguards for landlords, investors and lenders.

“Our vision is for a private rented sector that provides good quality homes and high management standards, inspires consumer confidence, and encourages growth through attracting increased investment.

“By creating a new and simplified system we will have better property management, while tenants and landlords will be provided with more clarity and a better understanding of what the tenancy agreement means for them.

“Tenants will have more security and can no longer be asked to leave their home simply because their tenancy agreement has reached its end date. They can assert their rights without fear of eviction.

“Increasing the supply of homes is the sustainable, long-term solution to addressing housing affordability. That is why we are investing over £1.7 billion to deliver our target of 30,000 affordable homes during the lifetime of this Parliament.”

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to increase security of tenure for private tenants.

He said: “We want to see a private rented sector in Scotland that is fit for families and protects all tenants – a sector that provides long-term homes, not short-term housing.

“The short-term tenancy agreements currently commonplace in the private rented sector do not provide the stability and security that the more than 80,000 families with children living in the private rented sector need in order to live a settled life.”

Graeme Brown added: “It’s time to make renting right. We need a private rented sector that is modern, stable, flexible, predictable and fair for those individuals and families that call it home.

“The benefits of reform would not just be felt by tenants, however. Landlords too would see a more constant and predictable income with less downtime between rents and a more stable relationship with their tenants.”

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