As of 1 December 2017, major changes have come into effect for Scotland’s 760,000 private renters. The Private Housing (Tenancies)(Scotland) Act 2016 will effect a major break with the system that operates in respect of private sector tenancies in Scotland.
What happens to assured and short assured tenancies?
Any tenancy that begins on or after 1 December 2017 will be a private residential tenancy. These new tenancies will bring significant changes for both landlords and tenants, including:
- No more fixed terms – private residential tenancies are open ended, meaning landlords can’t ask tenants to leave just because they have been in the property for 6 months as they can with a short assured tenancy.
- Rent increases – rent can only be increased once every 12 months (with 3 months’ notice) and if the tenant thinks the proposed increase is unfair they can refer it to a rent officer.
- Longer notice period – if the tenant has lived in a property for longer than 6 months the landlord will have to give at least 84 days’ notice to leave (unless the tenant has broken a term in the tenancy).
- Simpler notices – the notice to quit process has been scrapped and replaced by a simpler notice to leave process.
- Model tenancy agreement – the Scottish Government have published a model private residential tenancy that can be used by landlords to set up a tenancy.
What about pre-existing assured and short assured tenancies?
Any existing short assured or assured tenancies will continue until either the tenant or landlord bring it to an end by serving notice to quit the property. If the short assured tenancy is renewing on a contractual basis, this can continue to renew under the Housing (Scotland) Act 1988 until the landlord or tenant brings it to an end by serving notice to quit the property.
There are 18 grounds, divided into 4 groups: 1) Let property required for another purpose; 2) Tenant’s status; 3) Tenant’s conduct; 4) Legal impediment to let continuing. Some grounds are mandatory, meaning that if the landlord can prove they apply, the sheriff has to grant an order for eviction. Others are discretionary, meaning the sheriff will have to decide whether it is reasonable to evict the tenant. Ground 12 (rent arrears) is both.
First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber)
The new legislation means civil cases relating to the private rented sector will no longer be dealt with in the Sheriff Court. Applications should now be made to the Tribunal by tenants and landlords where the terms of the new Private Residential Tenancy are not being met, or where there is disagreement with the rent that has been set for the property by the Rent Officer. Fees will not be charged in relation to these Tribunal applications.
Uncertainty remains regarding tenant’s safe deposit applications, and landlords suing for repair works to the property. It is possible these matters will continue to be dealt with in the Sheriff Court.
We can help
Jackson Boyd have a team of lawyers specialising in landlord tenant disputes. We are experienced in acting on behalf of both landlords and tenants and are happy to answer any questions in relation to the changes in the law and how it may impact you. Please contact us online by clicking here or speak to a member of our specialist team on 0333 222 1855.