As of 1st December 2017, assured and assured shorthold tenancies are being replaced by private residential tenancies in Scotland. Any new tenancies that begin on or after 1st December 2017 will be considered a private residential tenancy if the following three conditions are met:
- the property is let to a tenant as a separate dwelling. A property can still be considered a separate dwelling even if some of the core facilities are shared with other tenants. For example, if a tenant rents only a bedroom in a flat, but has a right to use a shared bathroom and kitchen, the property will be treated as a separate dwelling because the tenant has access to the range of facilities required for it to be a regarded as a separate dwelling
- the tenant lives in it as their only or main home
- the tenancy isn’t excluded under schedule 1 of the Act
It’s worth noting that even if the landlord gives the tenant a different type of tenancy agreement, the tenant will still be entitled to the same protections of a PRT and the tenancy agreement issued may not be fully enforceable.
What are the differences?
The biggest difference between the new private residential tenancy and previous types of tenancies is that a PRT is open-ended. There are no fixed terms; unlike assured shorthold tenancies (AST) where the landlord had the right to ask tenants to leave after the first 6 months. With no specified end date to a PRT, the tenancy can only be terminated by the tenant choosing to leave the let property or the landlord terminating the tenancy using at least one of the eighteen grounds for eviction – though tenants have the right to challenge terminations that they believe to be wrongful.
Rent amount can only be increased once every 12 months, and the landlord has to give the tenant 3 months’ notice. This can also be challenged by the tenant if they feel the rent increase is unfair.
A private residential tenancy offers more security and stability to tenants in Scotland, whilst safeguarding landlords by giving them a simpler repossession process. In cases where the tenant is in rent arrears, the case can be referred for faster repossession than what was previously allowed. A singular notice called a “notice to leave” has replaced the current “notice to quit”, “notice of proceedings”, and “section 33 notice” to further simplify the repossession of a property.
The Scottish government is also providing a model tenancy agreement that landlords can use freely, and tenants have the right to a written tenancy agreement within 28 days of its commencement. You can easily create a private residential tenancy agreement online, using the Scottish Government Model Tenancy Agreement (MTA) tool, here. All you have to do is complete the form with the details of the tenancy, including:
- tenant/s’ details
- property address
- rent details
- deposit details
- start date of the tenancy
- property management details (if applicable)
You are then able to download the tenancy agreement as a PDF or Word document for immediate use.
How will this affect existing tenancies?
Existing tenancies will not be automatically converted into a private residential tenancy. Any assured and assured shorthold tenancies that began prior to 1st December 2017 will remain unchanged, unless the landlord offers the tenant the new tenancy or the existing tenancy is brought to an end by either the landlord or the tenant giving notice.
John Blackwood, the Chief Executive for Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL), has said:
We have worked closely with the Scottish Government, tenants groups and charities for a number of years on this new tenancy agreement and believe the final outcome will make life considerably easier for landlords. The improved and clarified grounds for eviction, alongside a clearly defined process which we campaigned for will further help streamline the sector.
The new clauses will make it easier for landlords to ensure contracts are fully compliant with the law as well as being easier for both them and tenants to understand, hopefully reducing tension and unnecessary disagreements.
We also hope this will make it easier to identify rogue landlords and drive them out of the sector whilst encouraging the overwhelming number of landlords who act responsibly to play their part in increasing the supply of housing available in Scotland.
Many insurers aren’t currently able to cover this new type of tenancy, as they require a lease agreement with a minimum of 6 months in place.
At Ashburnham, we can cover landlord insurance for private residential tenancy for Scottish addresses.