The Introduction of the "Private Residential Tenancy"

In just a few short weeks, the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 is set to come into force across Scotland, bringing with it the new “Private Residential Tenancy”. From the 1st of December, the new Private Residential Tenancy will be the only tenancy open for private landlords and tenants in Scotland. Following enforcement of the new Act, the common Short Assured Tenancy, despite its popularity within Scotland's residential letting sector, will no longer be available. It is worth noting that existing Short Assured Tenancies will continue and will not automatically be converted to the new regime.

The aim of the Act is to increase security for Tenants by restricting Landlords’ ability to terminate residential tenancies and ultimately protect against frequent or excessive rent increases. The big appeal of the Short Assured Tenancy was that it gave Landlords the ability to terminate the lease without reason, once the agreed period of tenancy had expired. However, the Private Residential Tenancy is essentially open ended with the Tenant calling the shots on deciding when the lease comes to an end. A Private Residential Tenancy can only be terminated by the Landlord if they can establish grounds for eviction. The Act details 18 "grounds" in total and include some of the following examples:-

  • The Tenant has been in rent arrears for more than 3 months;
  • The Tenant is in breach of their obligations under the Tenancy Agreement; or
  • The Landlord intends to sell, refurbish or reside in the property;

In order to evict a Tenant, the Landlord is required to serve notice detailing their grounds for removal. If this this is rejected by the Tenant, the Landlord must then apply to the First Tier Tribunal for an eviction order.

The open ended nature of the new Private Residential Tenancy is unlikely to prove a hit with all Landlords however it is hoped that the new regime will prove simpler, in that there are less administrative requirements compared to those involved with Short Assured Tenancies. There is no requirement for pre-tenancy notices similar to the AT5 and the Landlord is only required to provide the Tenant with written terms prior to the beginning of the tenancy. A pro forma Private Residential Tenancy Agreement is currently being prepared by the Scottish Government to assist solicitors in the drafting and it is hoped that further guidance will be published to help with the transition to this new form of residential lease. 

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