Further to the new Private Residential Tenancy (“PRT”) regime which comes into force on 1 Dec 2017, the Scottish Government has now published the Model Tenancy Agreement which they had promised to introduce as a suggested template for new PRT agreements.
The Model Tenancy contains two categories of clauses - the first category, which are in bold in the Model Tenancy, are core rights and obligations which must feature in every private residential tenancy. These include not only the statutory terms applicable to every PRT such as the landlord’s obligation to comply with the repairing standard and tenancy deposit regulations but also the basic essentials of the tenancy such as the start date, property address and rent. The mandatory clauses also prescribe when a landlord can access the property for repairs (at least 48 hours notice unless access is required urgently) and makes it clear the rent cannot be increased more than once in any 12 month period with the landlord giving the tenant at least 3 months’ notice of any increase (the tenant has the right to refer any rent increase to a rent officer for adjudication). In addition, the mandatory clauses prohibit sub-letting without landlord’s consent and an obligation on the tenant to take reasonable care of the property. These mandatory clauses must feature in all agreements when using the Model Tenancy.
Of course, one thing you will not find in the Model Tenancy is a fixed end date for the tenancy now the “no-fault" ground for repossession is abolished for new tenancies as from 1 Dec 2017. Instead the tenancy will carry on until either the tenant terminates the tenancy or the landlord recovers possession under one of the 18 grounds specified in the Act.
The second category of clauses in the Model Tenancy are examples of discretionary clauses which the landlord may or may not wish to include in the written tenancy agreement. These include, among other things, a prohibition on smoking in the property, a restriction on pets, responsibility for maintaining any private garden etc.
The Scottish Government has produced Easy Read Notes which must be provided to a tenant along with the Model Tenancy. While it is not obligatory to use the Model Tenancy, the core rights and obligations among its mandatory clauses must be included in every PRT commencing on or after 1 Dec 2017. If a landlord does use his own style of tenancy, they must provide tenants with the Supporting Notes available on the Scottish Government website.
Landlords of residential properties and letting agents should familiarise themselves now with the Model Tenancy and, in particular, its mandatory terms and consider whether their tenancy agreements will be fit for purpose for new tenancies from 1 Dec 2017.