Photo: Chronicle Live

New Lease of Life For Tenancy Laws in Scotland

Private Residential Tenancy should start making St Andrews housing more affordable.

House hunting season is in full swing in St Andrews and this year, the Scottish government have made the expensive market in ‘the Bubble’ a little more affordable.

“The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 commenced on 1 December 2017 and introduced the new ‘private residential tenancy’.”

This new kind of tenancy, supported by Shelter Scotland, comes with a plethora of new rules and regulations relating to everything from rent increases to sub-letting.

Said to be “the biggest change to the private rental sector in a generation”this law is sure to change the letting game all throughout Scotland, hopefully with the “significant improvements” for all involved promised by Housing Minister Kevin Stewart.

Photo: Scottish Parliament

However, the clause in this new Act that is having the biggest effect on St Andrews students states that, “The new tenancy will be open-ended and will last until a tenant wishes to leave the let property or the landlord uses one (or more) of the 18 grounds for eviction.”

Simply put, this means that a landlord is not allowed to lease a property for a set amount of time – for example, 12 months – and a tenant has no obligation to tell the landlord when he / she will end the tenancy upon signing the lease agreement.

Alternatively, the tenant has to give the landlord only 28 days notice of when they wish to end the tenancy.

Second year Student Sian O’Sullivan said of this new law that it, “provides a lot more flexibility and control and I am willing to pay more per month because of the shorter lease.”

Student Matilda Sample also mentioned how this new law could be very beneficial for study abroad students who would only need a house in St Andrews for one term.

Additionally, the President of the Students’ Association Lewis Wood mentioned the subject last week when he sent out an email urging students to be aware that “your letting agency/landlord cannot pressure or require you to sign a notice to quit, and you cannot sign it before you move in to your property (meaning you cannot be made to sign one when you sign your lease before move-in!)”

Photo: Rollos

While this law undoubtedly benefits students and other tenants by creating a new sense of security and flexibility in their property letting endeavours, it also benefits landlords and letting agencies.

Landlords are no able to “refer a case for repossession more easily,” while providing a “model private residential tenancy agreement” that can be easily edited online for each tenant.

Additionally, the ’18 grounds for repossession’ have been modernised and updated to benefit the landlord.

With an overwhelmingly positive response to this law in St Andrews, there are still those cases in which the competitive housing market makes the law somewhat redundant.

Second year student Catherine stated that, “[her] landlady was used to having 12 month contracts, so even though the Scottish law has changed, because St Andrews is so competitive for pricing… you’re not really in the position to negotiate a lot of the time.”



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