Following the Scottish Government’s second consultation on tenancy changes, a new private tenancy, published last week, Shelter Scotland has set out the things renters need to know which provide some insight into the new rules.
Shelter says that the publication now goes further than the government’s initial proposals and gives an idea of what the Bill, to be introduced this autumn, will look like.
Writing for Scottish Housing News James Battye of Shelter Scotland says:
“The very good news is that the Scottish Government is committed to ensuring private tenants have the right to stay in their homes for as long as they need by removing the ‘no fault ground for possession”.
He sees this as “a clear sign that the government is listening: 81% of respondents to the government’s first consultation agreed that ‘no fault possession’ should be excluded from a new tenancy…No longer will private tenants lack the legal certainty that they can stay in their homes for as long as they need.”
The government publication sets out further detail on what the new tenancy will look like, including, Shelter says:
- notice periods from landlords to tenants being set at 28 days where a tenant has been in the property for six months or less and 56 days where this is over six months;
- an ‘accelerated’ procedure for repossession for rent arrears cases (which we need to make sure gives priority to early intervention and tenancy sustainment);
- and additional discretionary elements for possession actions for rent arrears due to housing benefit delays, antisocial behaviour and breaches of ‘non mandatory’ tenancy clauses.
Importantly, Shelter thinks, the government also set out how rent increases will be handled:
- Initial rents would be set by the market.
- Rents will not be able to rise more than once per year.
- Landlords need to give tenants 12 weeks’ notice of a rent increase.
- And if a proposed rent increase takes a tenant’s rent well above rent charged for comparable properties in their area the can refer this to the Private Rented Housing Tribunal.
Shelter expresses some regret that the proposals do not fully address concerns about the affordability of rented housing in Scotland, which they say requires additional investment in social housing, and an examination of why housing in Scotland is so expensive, but they think it gives important additional clarity on rental increases compared to the current private tenancy.
Shelter welcomes the proposal to introduce a power for Scottish ministers to designate “rent pressure” areas, which would allow ministers to take action to limit rent increases for tenants in certain “hot-spot” areas for limited periods of time. This, they say, could offer “breathing space” for hard-pushed tenants in areas where rents are increasing steeply.
As the consultation closes on the 10th of May Shelter is appealing for “as many private tenants as possible share their views.”
Shelter’s Mr Battye says:
“This an important step in the right direction for private rented sector reform in Scotland.”
Shelter Welcomes Proposed Tenancy Changes in Scotland – http://t.co/JScPHHsPDf
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) April 10, 2015