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The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 – 30 November 2017

The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act was passed in Parliament by MSPs in 2016 and came into force on the 01 December 2017, marking the dawn of a new era in the Scottish private rented sector.

The Act sees the current system of Short Assured Tenancy Agreements swept away and replaced with a single ‘Private Residential Tenancy’ (PRT), with key differences that include an end to fixed term tenancies, an end to no fault evictions and a more simplistic tenancy system.

The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 is due to affect landlords in numerous ways, such as;

  • a simpler tenancy agreement – the Scottish Government have a recommended model tenancy agreement which includes standardised tenancy terms;
  • rent increases are only permitted once in a 12 month period providing 3 months’ notice;
  • one simple “notice to leave” replaces “notice to quit” and “notice of proceedings”;
  • eighteen modernised grounds for repossession;
  • all communications can be made via email if your tenant agrees – including notices to be served.

These changes are said to help safeguard landlords in the future.

The main changes for tenants will be that their tenancies can continue indefinitely, unless the landlord is able to invoke a specific ground(s) to end them. The no fault ground for eviction comes to an end and tenants can give a 28 day notice to leave.  This new regime will not affect existing Short Assured Tenancies (SAT), however after the 01 December 2017, no new Short Assured Tenancies will be created.

In addition, there is a new route of redress and all civil cases in the Private Rented Sector will be dealt with by a specialist judicial body, the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) rather than Sheriff Courts.  This service will be free to both tenants and landlords.

Edwin Thompson’s Scott Gillie, Head of the Residential Lettings Department in our Berwick-upon-Tweed office comments, “The intended purpose of the Scottish Governments new tenancy regime is to improve security for tenants and provide safeguards for landlords, lenders and investors, however the long term effect of this change in regime remains to be seen.”

At the time the bill was passed in 2016, the then housing minister, Margaret Burgess, said it was necessary to legislate to “rebalance” the relationship between landlords and tenants and that the bill as it stands will allow tenants to feel “more secure in their homes.”

For more information for either landlords or tenants regarding The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 and how it will affect you, please contact Scott Gillie in our Berwick office on (01289) 304432, or email [email protected]