Private Housing (Tenancies) Bill published in Scotland

A new bill published today will ensure tenants will have more security, stability and predictability when privately renting a home in Scotland.

The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill will protect 700,000 people from the prospect of unforeseen and unfair eviction and unpredictability over rent increases, as well as ensuring the sector is attractive to investors, with better management and regulation.

Proposals in the bill include:

  • A more streamlined system with no confusing pre-tenancy notices, modernised grounds for repossession and easier-to-understand tenancy agreements
  • Legislation which will mean tenants can no longer be asked to leave their home simply because the tenancy has reached its end date. Landlords will have modern protection for repossessing their property, such as intention to sell or move in themselves
  • Rent increases limited to only one per year, with three months’ notice – designed so tenants will have advance notice of changes, and can budget accordingly
  • The opportunity for local authorities to implement rent controls in areas where there are excessive increases in rents and a concern about the impact this is having on tenants and the wider housing system
  • More progressive repossession grounds for rent arrears cases, as well as new repossession grounds introduced for landlords where they want to sell their property or the tenant has abandoned the property

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess said:

“The changes outlined in this bill will give tenants greater security and stability in their home and community. It will also give landlords reassurance that their tenants will treat their property as a long-term home, rather than somewhere temporary.

“The private rented sector is changing. It is now home to a growing number of people in Scotland, and we recognise there are some areas where rents are increasing significantly. It is right and responsible to give local authorities the ability to introduce rent controls in order to ease areas under pressure.

“The range of measures brought forward under this bill will ensure the private rented sector is better managed, simplified and successful, and creates a system that works for everyone.”

The bill forms a key part of the Scottish Government strategy to grow and improve the private rented sector. In response to an action set out in the strategy, Ministers set up an independent Tenancy Review Group which recommended a new tenancy. The introduction of the bill follows two full public consultations, which were undertaken as part of this process and received around 10,000 responses.

To help secure new investment in the private rented sector and help meet the demand for more homes the Scottish Government has agreed to explore the development of a financial guarantee mechanism to stimulate private rented sector expansion in Scotland.

As part of this drive to support growth, Scotland’s Chief Planner has written to the heads of planning in every local authority to re-emphasise the importance the Scottish Government is placing on boosting the supply of housing across all tenures. He has encouraged local authorities to consider the role PRS homes can play in meeting housing need and demand in their areas.

Subject to an application from a local authority, Ministers will have the ability to introduce local rent controls for sitting tenants in areas under rent pressure. Consultation with landlords and tenants would be part of this process, with Ministers deciding on rent caps for a period of time not exceeding five years.

Stuart Beaty

Celsium, Birmingham, UK