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Private Residential Tenancies - Major Changes for Residential Tenancies

The Private Housing (Tenancies) Scotland Act 2016 came into force on 1st December 2017. From that date, no new assured or short assured tenancies can be entered into. Any new letting will become a Private Residential Tenancy ("PRT") governed by the new legislation. Existing assured and short assured tenancies will continue until their term has expired, or if it is continuing on a rolling basis, it will continue under the old legislation.

The Scottish Government have produced a model tenancy agreement which contains standardised terms which detail all the requirements of the new Act, and discretionary terms which can be amended to suit the situation. We have summarised some of the important changes below.

Rent Review

A new provision in the 2016 Act is that there can only be one rent review a year. Previously landlords were able to have multiple rent reviews a year and increase the rent a tenant was required to pay. Now Section 22 of the 2016 Act states a landlord must give the tenant written notice of an upcoming rent review at least three months before the proposed review date. The change to the rent amount must be laid out for the tenant to consider and if he finds it unreasonable disagrees with the increase then he can appeal to a rent officer within three weeks of the review. A rent officer has the power to decide what a reasonable rent amount should be. Subsequently if either tenant or landlord disagree with the officers decision then they can appeal to the first tier tribunal within two weeks of the officers decision.

A big concern about this change to rent review is that it may result in landlords setting the rent very high to begin with, as they will not be able to raise it to cover any unexpected costs that may occur throughout the year.

Another significant provision is that Local Authorities now have the power to apply 'rent pressure zones' to areas in which they feel rent has been increased excessively. This means that landlords will not be able to charge rent over the cap that the Authority have set in the area.

Ending a Private Residential Tenancy

The most controversial change to the law regarding private tenancies has been the removal of the no fault basis for eviction. This means under a PRT, a landlord can no longer ask a tenant to leave the property because a set period of time has expired.

The new PRT also replaces the existing complicated notice requirements with a single notice known as a notice to leave.

If the tenant is seeking to end the PRT, the tenant must give at least 28 days' notice in writing to terminate the tenancy, however this may be earlier if agreed in writing with the landlord. If the landlord is seeking to end the tenancy, he must rely on one of the 18 eviction grounds. The length of notice required will vary depending on the length of time the tenant has lived in the property and the type of eviction ground being relied on.

The landlord must give the tenant at least 28 days' notice if the tenant has lived in the property for six months or less, or if the eviction ground is one or more of the following. The tenant:

  • is no longer occupying the property;
  • has breached the tenancy agreement;
  • is in rent arrears for three or more consecutive months;
  • has a relevant criminal conviction (e.g. using the property for illegal reasons or committing a crime in or near the property);
  • has engaged in relevant antisocial behaviour;
  • has associated with a person who has a relevant conviction or has engaged in antisocial behaviour.

The landlord must give the tenant at least 84 days' notice if the tenant has lived in the property for over six months and the notice doesn't rely on the above grounds.

Other grounds for eviction are as follows:-

  • the landlord intends to sell the property for market value within three months of the tenant ceasing to occupy;
  • the property is being sold to the mortgage fender;
  • the landlord intends to refurbish the property entailing significant disruptive works to the property;
  • a member of the landlord's family intends to five in the property;
  • landlord registration has been refused or revoked by a focal authority;

If the notice to leave has been served on the tenant and they refuse to leave then the landlord win be able to go to the newly formed First-Tier Tribunal for Scotland Housing and Property to obtain an eviction order. The power to make an eviction order lies solely with the tribunal, therefore eviction will no longer be considered in the Sheriff Court. Similarly to the previous regime, there are mandatory and discretionary grounds in regards to the tribunals ability to grant an order.

The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 will introduce a number of clear changes intended to streamline the process and consequences of tenancies, though it is yet to be seen whether these developments will be improvements or not. All that is certain until the Act comes into force is that landlords and tenants will both begin to experience a vastly different relationship with one another.

Contact our Residential Property Solicitors Glasgow Today

If you would like advice on how this may affect you or you would like to discuss any issues you may have, please contact us today.

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