Blog by Kevin Stewart - Housing Minister on the New Private Residential Tenancy in Scotland
Housing Minister Kevin Stewart explains why the changes will benefit renters.
From December 1 a new private residential tenancy will be introduced, giving greater security to tenants and safeguards for landlords.
This new type of tenancy will have no end date and can only be ended either by a tenant giving written notice to their landlord or by the landlord using one of 18 grounds for eviction. Tenants will be also able to challenge wrongful termination.
The tenancy will also provide rent stability and predictability too. Landlords will only be able to increase rent once a year, and will have to give tenants three months’ written notice of any rise. Tenants will also be able to challenge this rise if they think it’s unfair.
But it isn’t only tenants who will benefit. When we developed the new tenancy we worked with landlords and other representative bodies to make sure we took their interests into account. So landlords will benefit from the certainty offered by the new grounds for repossession, which include grounds where the landlord intends to sell the property and where the property has been abandoned.
Both parties will benefit from more standardised tenancy agreements through the model private residential tenancy agreement. Landlords can use this to set up a tenancy, so there’s less paperwork.
By using our model tenancy agreement, with its mix of mandatory and discretionary terms, landlords will be able to easily tailor it while still meeting their legal obligation to provide tenants with all the written terms of their tenancy. Tenants will also benefit from the ‘easy-read’ notes, which accompany the model agreement and make it easier to understand.
Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, your tenancy won’t automatically change next month. Existing tenancies will carry on until either the tenant or the landlord brings it to an end by serving notice to quit the property.
Rent Pressure Zones
As part of the new private residential tenancy, we’re introducing Rent Pressure Zones (RPZ). From 1 December, if a council thinks rents are rising too much in a certain area, they can apply to the Scottish Government, to have that area designated as a Rent Pressure Zone.
A Rent Pressure Zone means that a cap on rent increases is set for up to five years. Any cap set will be at least the Consumer Price Index (CPI) +1% and will apply to existing tenants with new private residential tenancies.
To do that the council must meet the following requirements and demonstrate the following:
- rents in the area are rising too much
- the rent rises are causing problems for the tenants
- the council is coming under pressure to provide housing or subsidise the cost of housing as a result.
The Scottish Government will consult landlords’ and tenants’ representatives before any area is designated a Rent Pressure Zone.
So it’s an exciting time for private tenancies. Do make sure you’re aware of all the changes so you can take advantage of them and read the guides for landlords and for tenants to find out more about the changes.
Responsibilities as a private tenant
If you have an assured, short assured tenancy or one under the new tenancy regime, you have many rights as a tenant. However, you also have responsibilities. It is important that you keep to the terms of your tenancy agreement or your landlord may be able to evict you.
There is Protection Against Illegal Eviction and Harrassment For Private Rented Sector Tenants - As a tenant with a private landlord, the law protects you against harassment and illegal eviction, you can get more information by contacting your local Citizens Advice and Rights Fife (CARF) offices for advice and assistance - 0845 1400 095
Pay your rent on time - It is important that you pay your rent on time. If you have rent arrears, don't ignore them! If you are behind with your rent, your landlord will have grounds to start legal proceedings for eviction. Contact your landlord to discuss how you will clear your arrears. Landlords are much more likely to be sympathetic if they know that you are trying to resolve the matter.
Remember, if you are renting from a private landlord, they may be relying on your rent to pay the mortgage.
If you are having problems paying your rent, please contact Frontline Fife on 01592 800 430. Frontline Fife offer tenants and landlords impartial free independent Housing Information. They work to prevent homelessness through education, advice, advocacy, support and delivery of services.
Fire Safety - GET OUT, STAY OUT & DIAL 999 - please take a look at Scottish Fire & Rescue for information about planning escape routes, smoke alarms, Home Fire Safety Visits, etc as you may required by law to have adequate equipment and procedures.
Keep the house in good repair - Anyone in your household, or your guests, must not cause any deliberate damage to the property. If you damage the property or notice that something is faulty, you should report it to your landlord immediately. If you caused the damage, you will be responsible for repairing it.
Everyone is encouraged to think ahead and get ready for all forms of severe weather. If you go away during winter make sure you take measures to stop your pipes from freezing. For further information please contact ‘Ready Scotland’.
Getting on with your neighbours - Anyone in your household, or your guests should take care to behave in a way that will not cause nuisance or annoyance to your neighbours. This includes:
- not playing your music too loud
- not playing your TV too loud
- letting yours neighbours know if you are having a party
- entering and leaving your house quietly
- disposing of rubbish carefully
- building a good relationship with your neighbours
- quickly arranging a rubbish pick up from the council for bulky items
- not using your house for illegal purposes.
If you behave in a way that is antisocial, your landlord may have grounds to evict you.
Provide your landlord with proper notice - If you want to leave, you must give proper notice or you could end up with rent arrears and in addition having to pay any legal costs that your landlord incurs.
Heating your Home
For information and assistance on heating your home, please contact:
- Cosy Kingdom on 01592 858458 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Text ‘COSY’then YOUR NAME to 88440 Website: www.cosykingdom.org.uk
- St Andrews EnvironmentalNetwork (StAndEN) on 01334 659315. Email: email@example.com
- CARF on 03451 400095 Website: www.cabfife.org.uk
- The Energy Saving Trust manages delivery of the Scottish Government’s schemes through the Home Energy Scotlandhotline. For telephone advice (free from landlines and most mobiles) call 0808 808 2282 or text ‘WARM’ to 81025 for a call back. Home Energy Scotland website.
- Our Power, set up by Scottish social housing providers (including Fife Council), is committed to making energy costs fairer. Do you have electric storage heaters? Our Power’s ‘Take Control’ tariff may lower your energy costs. For further information call 0808 189 3085. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.our-power.co.uk
To request a Cosy Kingdom, free home energy visit, please complete the attached "Do it On-line" e-form: Cosy Kingdom Referral Form.
Please note that any proposed permanent changes to the rental property would need to be discussed with your landlord.
Housing Options Hub
Fife Council is working with six other local authorities as part of the Tayside, Fife and Central Hub which is focused on delivering housing options.
Housing options is a form of advice and information giving for people to consider their housing needs. It is also used to try and prevent homelessness by looking at peoples’ circumstances before their need reaches a crisis point. This means providing advice and assistance for people trying to find somewhere new to live or who want to stay in their current home but are having problems doing so. Housing options advice is available for people whether they live in social housing, private renting or low cost home ownership.
The Hub wants to work with private sector landlords because they feel that it would be mutually beneficial.
- The hub can;
- provide information and advice to private landlords and their tenants about tenancy sustainment
- Increase the choice of accommodation on offer to households as part of housing options advice
- Increase awareness to private tenants about the support that can be offered if they are struggling with the current tenancy
If you would like to know more about Housing Options services delivered by your local authority or find out how they could support your tenants and YOU. Please contact: Housing Advice Line 03451 550033 or Email: email@example.com
A directory detailing services across the hub can be found at http://www.housingoptionshub.co.uk/index.php. There is also a step by step interactive guides around different issues which can be found here http://www.housingoptionshub.co.uk/index.php/info/resources
Landlord Registration Team
Tel: 01592 583397 Contact Landlord Registration Team online
By Post: Rothesay House Rothesay Place Glenrothes Fife KY7 5PQ