New rights for renters

1 December 2017, 10:08 | Updated: 1 December 2017, 11:07

New House

New changes to Scotland's private rented housing sector will bring "significant improvements" to those renting their home.

A new standard tenancy agreement, which means landlords can only put up rents once and year and allows tenants to challenge unfair rises, comes into force from today.

Under a Private Residential Tenancy landlords will have to give tenants one of 18 reasons for ending their contract and rental agreements will have no end date, and can only be terminated by either the property owner or the renter giving written notice.

Campaigners at the housing charity Shelter Scotland have hailed the changes - which have been brought in after Holyrood passed the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 - as being a "new dawn for all private renters".

Director Graeme Brown said: "These new laws bring unprecedented security of tenure to private renters with landlords now needing a good reason to evict tenants."

He added: "We have campaigned passionately for 10 years now for reform of private renting, ending with our Make Renting Right campaign, which had extensive support from the public and local and national politicians.

"We are delighted that all those voices were listened to and we support today's changes in the law."

Shelter is now working with the Scottish Government to raise awareness of the new system, which applies to tenancy agreements from December 1 onwards

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: "The private rental sector has grown substantially in recent years and now provides a place to call home for 760,000 people.

"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.

"We want to ensure everyone has a safe and warm place to call home. The new tenancy sits alongside our wider ambitions for housing in Scotland - not least our ambitious commitment to deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes during this Parliament, including that for rent."

The legislation could also help identify rogue landlords, with John Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords saying they had worked with ministers ahead of the changes coming into place.

Mr Blackwood said they believed the reforms would "make life considerably easier for landlords" as a result of "improved and clarified grounds for eviction, alongside a clearly defined process" for this.

He stated: "The new clauses will make it easier for landlords to ensure contracts are fully compliant with the law as well as being easier for both them and tenants to understand, hopefully reducing tension and unnecessary disagreements.

"We also hope this will make it easier to identify rogue landlords and drive them out of the sector whilst encouraging the overwhelming number of landlords who act responsibly to play their part in increasing the supply of housing available in Scotland."