As anticipated in our earlier commentaries on the Bill and the Infrastructure and Capital Investment’s Committee’s Stage 1 Report, the Scottish Government has now issued its response to the Stage 1 Report. 

1. A WIN FOR THE PBSA SECTOR? 

In response to the Committee’s recommendation that options should be considered for enabling tenancies of purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) to be set for fixed terms, the Scottish Government has concluded that PBSA is not part of the mainstream private rented sector, and has proposed that PBSA tenancies should therefore be excluded from the Bill, in the same way as proposed for accommodation provided by Universities and other higher education bodies. 

The proposed amendments to the Bill have also now been published, and the detailed drafting on the proposed PBSA exemption excludes tenancies of let property in respect of which the permitted planning use is predominantly for housing students

2. PROPOSED TIMINGS 

The Committee will now consider the Scottish Government’s proposed amendments at an initial Stage 2 discussion scheduled for Wednesday 10th February, with the final Stage 3 Debate due to take place in mid-March. The timetable for this Bill to become law is extremely tight, as if the Bill is not passed before dissolution of the Scottish Parliament on 23 March (before the May Election), the Bill will fall. 

As things stand, the Bill could still be further amended. We will continue to closely monitor progress, and will provide further updates as soon as we have them. For now though, the Scottish Government’s response is very welcome news for all stakeholders in the PBSA. Let’s hope the Committee agrees with it.