New dawn for private renters

Major changes to the law have come into effect for Scotland’s 760,000 private renters.

The private residential tenancy rules will bring an end to fixed-term rentals, meaning leases will effectively be open-ended.

Rent increases can only be made once every 12 months, and tenants who believe them to be unfair can take them to a rent officer.

Shelter Scotland described the change as a “new dawn” for private renters.

Anyone signing a tenancy from 1 December will be covered by the new rules.

All landlord and tenant disputes will be heard in a new specialist tribunal and, from next month, all letting agents will have to register and adhere to a code of practice.

Tenants will have indefinite security of tenure, meaning “no-fault” evictions will no longer be possible.

Other key measures include:

  • Longer notice periods, with tenants who have been in a property for more than six months receiving at least 84 day notice to leave, unless they are at fault
  • Simpler notices, with a simpler notice to leave process
  • The introduction of a model tenancy agreement which can be used by landlords to set up a tenancy

The new law does, however, allow landlords to ask tenants to leave on a number of grounds, including wanting to sell or refurbish the property or if they intend to live there themselves.

If the tenant fails to vacate at the end of the notice period, the landlord can apply to a tribunal for an eviction notice.

 

Rhona Murray, Associate at Gildeas said : “ The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016, which came into force on 1st December 2017, has ushered in a new legal framework within which the relationship between landlord and tenant will henceforth operate. We witness the introduction of a new form of tenancy, known as the “private residential tenancy (PRT).”

 

“Greater security of tenure for the tenant and an eviction process via a new tribunal (rather than through the courts) are just two features of this piece of legislation which fundamentally alters the law as it has stood for 30 years. Any tenancy granted after 1st December 2017 will be a PRT; existing assured or short assured tenancies will subsist until terminated.

 

“The Scottish Government has sought to “rebalance” the relationship between landlord and tenant. We shall have to wait and see how the new system will operate in practice. Clearly, there will be a period of transition – it will be interesting to see what unfolds over the course of 2018.”