Published on 8th October, this Bill represents the biggest overhaul of housing legislation in Scotland in 25 years, and aims to deliver on the Scottish Government’s objective of encouraging growth and inspiring consumer and investor confidence in the private rented sector.

Rent Controls

Initial rents will continue to be market led, but in high rent hot-spots and if certain other criteria are met, local authorities will be able to apply for the affected area to be designated as a rent pressured zone, which (if agreed) will cap rent increases for sitting tenants within that zone for up to 5 years at a minimum of CPI + 1%. 

In all areas, rent increases will be limited to no more than once a year.  Landlords will require to give tenants at least 12 weeks’ notice of a change in rent, and tenants will be able to refer increases to a rent officer for adjudication.

Tenure Reform

The current no-fault ground of possession (where landlords can recover possession on expiry of the contracted term) will be removed for all future private rented tenancies.

Landlords will have to offer a minimum tenancy of 6 months, unless the tenant requests a shorter period and the landlord agrees.

Short assured and assured tenancies, pre-tenancy notices and notices of proceedings will all be scrapped, and replaced with a much simpler model tenancy agreement and a single notice to leave.

Notice periods will be streamlined, a more modernised and comprehensive list of grounds for possession will be introduced, and the new First-tier Tribunals should speed up the eviction of problem tenants.

Conclusion

The Bill has been welcomed as introducing “a remarkable amount of common ground” - but the use of rent controls and the (many) potentially adverse consequences for the purpose built student accommodation sector have already attracted huge controversy.

The Bill is not yet law, but there is still opportunity to have your say before 19th November, when the Scottish Government’s Infrastructure & Capital Investment Committee will close its call for written representations from stakeholders and other interested parties.