Changes in the Private Rented Sector – May 2018
It’s just over six months since the Scottish Government introduced the new Private Residential Tenancy and it’s important that everyone renting privately, or thinking about it, knows about these changes and their new rights.
Since 1 December 2017, all new tenancies in the Private Rented Sector have been private residential tenancies (existing short assured tenancies will continue if the landlord and tenant both agree). The new tenancy provides more security and stability for the 770,000 people whose home is in the private rented sector.
One important change with the new tenancy is that it has no end date. This means it continues until the tenant gives 28 days’ written notice to leave, or for tenants who have lived in their home for six months or more and have not broken their tenancy agreement, the landlord must give them 12 weeks’ notice of eviction and use one of 18 modernised grounds for eviction – for example they are selling the property.
Having this extra security should give tenants confidence in asking for improvements to their home. They can apply to the Housing and Property Chamber (part of the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland) to have the property brought up to the repairing standard, without fear of eviction. Applying to the Chamber is straightforward and there is no fee.
Under the new tenancy, landlords can only increase rent once in 12 months and must give the tenant three months’ written notice. Tenants’ rights to challenge unfair rent increases are also strengthened. If you are unhappy with a proposed rent increase you can refer this to the rent officer for independent adjudication – again there is no cost for this.
This new tenancy is the biggest change in private renting in Scotland in well over a generation, giving tenants strengthened rights and security. It follows other changes that the Scottish Government has introduced in the Private Rented Sector in recent years including clarifying the law on illegal premiums, requiring landlords to install carbon monoxide detectors and carry out electrical safety checks, giving local authorities more powers to improve standards in the sector, creating a specialist tribunal to deal with disputes and requiring letting agents to register and to comply with a statutory Letting Agent Code of Practice.
Together these measures will improve standards for the thousands of people in Scotland who rent privately.