The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill was finally passed on 17 March – just ahead of dissolution of the Scottish Parliament and the May Election.
The Big Changes
Fixed term tenancies will be a thing of the past from December 2017 when the Bill comes into force, and the current “no fault” ground for repossession because a fixed term tenancy has ended will be removed.
There will instead be 16 fixed grounds for possession, and a new collaborative approach will be needed to landlord/tenant negotiations to ensure landlords are given as much certainty as possible and can be sure of regaining possession, when required.
There is provision for rent control measures, despite evidence being led throughout the consultation process as to the risks of long-term uncertainty in the market and curbing of investment. PBSA and student accommodation provided by Universities and other higher education bodies have been carved out of the Bill – but HMO properties let to students are caught by the Bill’s provisions and will be regulated in the same way as other mainstream PRS properties – creating a potential rift in the student tenancy market.
The journey continues
The Scottish Government has certainly made a number of changes to the Bill since its first iteration in response to industry concerns.
However, after the Bill receives Royal Assent, there is still potential for further changes and restrictions, by separate regulations which will provide further detail to follow – leaving a veil of uncertainty as to how the new Act will work in practice and its true impact on the industry and those investing in it.