2018 brings in what Shelter Scotland describes as a “new dawn” for the countries 760,000 private renters, as new rules which came into effect last month aim to offer greater security.
The charity, which has been campaigning for 10 years for reform in the rental market, is now working closely with the Scottish Government to raise awareness among tenants and landlords with a nationwide campaign.
What are the new rules?
The Scottish government has made a number of changes to ease instability for those living in rented accommodation, whilst creating new processes to handle issues as they arise. Here are some ways in which the new rules will play out for the benefit of private rental tenants in Scotland:
- Fixed-term rentals scrapped – Previously, a tenancy may be advertised as being anywhere between six to 24 months in length. Tenants who wanted to exit this agreement early would likely have to pay to do so, while those staying may find the same period renewed automatically when the term elapsed. By putting an end to fixed-term rentals, tenancies will become open-ended, but the tenant will still need to give the landlord notice if they intend to leave.
- Clamp down on rent increases – This will be restricted to once every 12 months, and tenants have the right to take the matter to a rent officer if they believe the increase is unfair.
- Longer notice periods for tenants – If a tenant has been living in the property for longer than six months, their landlord will need to give them at least 84 days notice to leave. This doesn’t apply to evictions where the tenant is at fault. The landlord has the right to apply to a tribunal for an eviction notice if the tenant doesn’t leave by the end of this notice period.
A specialist tribunal has been formed to deal with disputes, and letting agents will be required to adhere to a code of practice relating to the new rules, which take effect on tenancies signed after 1st December 2017.
Landlords will have the benefit of a model tenancy agreement to guide them as they set up new tenancies, while simpler notices will be introduced for tenants.
It’s hoped that these new measures will reduce paperwork and make for smoother processes.
What about landlords?
There are concerns that while giving tenants greater security, that same benefit is being taken away from landlords, which may impact the student housing market and lead to property waiting lists in “Rent Pressure Zones”, where already high prices will be capped.
But Housing Minister Kevin Stewart thinks that the new measures create the right balance and provides tenants with a basic yet essential feeling of security:
“This is the biggest change to the sector for a generation and will bring about significant improvements in private renting, benefiting both tenants and landlords,” he said.
“We want to ensure everyone has a safe and warm place to call home.
The role of insurance
Property owners insurance can come with many useful features, including rent guarantee if landlords unexpectedly lose money from their tenants, as well as legal costs for eviction.
While “no-fault” evictions will no longer be allowed, landlords are still able to ask tenants to leave in a certain number of scenarios, such as if they want to sell the property, or live there themselves.
If tenants refuse to leave when asked and they’re not within their rights to stay even under the new rules, landlords can receive financial support with the eviction process through their insurance.
For more information on how property owners insurance can offer your landlord clients greater security, speak to the experts at Property Protector about a range of property insurance services and features available.