Overhaul of private tenancies in Scotland

Scottish Parliament has just passed The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act, coming into action in 2017.

The Act will create a much simpler system, including tighter regulation over rent increases and adding increased security of tenure for tenants.

Type of tenancy

The traditional short assured and assured tenancies will no longer exist and these will both be replaced by just one tenancy, the Private Rented Tenancy (PRT).

Rent increases

Rent increases may only be made once a year and the landlord must provide three months' notice of any increase. If the tenant does not think the rent increase is fair, they will have the option to refer the increase to a Rent Officer for assessment.  The Private Rented Sector Housing Tribunal will hear any appeal of the Rent Officer’s decision.

Local authorities will also have the power to apply rent caps in areas that have experienced excessive rent increases.

Security of tenure

Under the current short assured tenancy, Landlords can vacate a property when the tenancy ends providing they have served the appropriate two month's notice. This will no longer apply under the new rules.  Effectively, Scotland will no longer have the equivalent of a Section 21 notice used in England.

Landlords will need to provide at least one of the prescribed grounds to end a tenancy, thus ending it for a specific reason rather than on a whim. Notice will need to be either 28 or 84 days, depending on the circumstances. Additionally, the tenant will be allowed to refer the matter to the Private Rented Sector Housing Tribunal which will have the power to order the landlord to pay the tenant up to six months' rent in the event that the termination is deemed to be wrongful.

What this means for landlord and tenants

No doubt tenants in Scotland will be rubbing their hands in delight as this new Act is clearly stacked in their favour. As for landlords, this may appear first hand to be a bit of a blow, but we'll just have to wait to see what effects the Act may have.

Stuart Beaty

Celsium, Birmingham, UK