Forthcoming changes in private rental sector legislation

16
Oct

Forthcoming changes in private rental sector legislation

Most of our landlords will be aware that the private rental sector landscape is due to change over the next year brought about by changes in the Scottish Housing Act and other pieces of legislation. Below is an overview of the key changes and dates to be aware of:

1st December 2017 – introduction of the Private Residential Tenancy (PRT) regime

Any new leases issued on or after the 1st December 2017 will be PRT’s. Short Assured Tenancies can no longer be created for new tenants. This does not affect leases issued prior to this date.

The key differences are:

- There will be no minimal fixed term for the tenancy, only a start date

- Landlords will now need to give a reason to end a tenancy. This can be done any time after the start date but one of the 18 grounds for possession needs to apply

The notice period for most grounds is 28 days’ if the tenant has occupied the property for 6 months or less, and 84 days’ if more than 6 months. For some grounds e.g. rent arrears, it will be 28 days’ notice, regardless of the duration of time of occupancy

Tenants can end the tenancy any time after the start date, provided they give at least 28 days’ notice in writing

- The Scottish Government will issue a model tenancy agreement (not yet released) which landlords and agents are recommended to use. We will be getting a solicitor to look over this in due course

- The first rental increase can be carried out at any time after the start of the lease but thereafter it cannot be increased more frequently than once a year

1st December 2017 – First-Tier Tribunal takes on PRS legal disputes

The First-Tier tribunal will deal with cases in relation to the new letting agents’ regime (see below), and the transfer of tenancy dispute cases including evictions from the sheriff court for all tenancy types (PRT’s & Short Assured Tenancies).

The cost of legal action against tenants should be significantly reduced as unlike the sheriff court there is no fee to apply to the tribunal and it is envisaged that in most cases landlords will not need to use a solicitor.

31st January 2018 – letting agent code of practice comes into force

From the 31st January 2018 letting agents must adhere to a statutory code of practice. The code sets out standards for all aspects of letting agency work.

If a landlord or tenant believes that a letting agent they have let a property through or from has failed to comply with the code, and remains dissatisfied after raising their complaint with the agent, they can apply to the First-Tier Tribunal.

1st October 2018 – deadline for letting agents to register with Scottish Ministers

All letting agents must apply for registration by the 1st October 2018. As part of this key individuals within the agency must have met a training requirement at the point of registration. At Home In Edinburgh staff are currently undertaking the Letwell Programme which is the professional development course delivered via a partnership between Landlord Accreditation Scotland and the Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland.

 

We believe that agents and landlords who conduct themselves in a professional, honest and fair way, have nothing to fear from the upcoming changes and that they will hopefully remove some of the ‘rogue’ operators from the industry. If you would like any further clarification on any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact us.