The Scottish Government has a website to allow landlords to create their own tenancy agreement.
The website allows landlords to create tenancy agreements which contain clauses “required” under the current legislation, as well adding or removing correctly drafted “optional” clauses as required. This means all new tenancies created with the website are fully compliant.
Mandatory clauses cover matters such as tenancy deposits, repairing standard compliance and how to end a tenancy; with discretionary clauses ranging from utilities to common parts.
The Scottish Government has a model tenancy, and an online tool for generating it, that can be used by private landlords. If a landlord chooses to use this tenancy, they must provide their tenant with accompanying easy read notes. Alternatively, landlords can develop their own PRT but they must ensure that all of the standard clauses that are legally required have been included. Landlords must also provide their tenant with a guide to the standard clauses.
The PRT changes the way that tenancies can be ended. Under the old regime, landlords were able to give tenants notice to leave after the tenancy came to a natural end without having to give a specific reason. Under PRT, landlords have to state at least one of 18 grounds for eviction. If the tenant does not agree to leave or disputes the reason given, the case will go to the Housing and Property Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal (the Tribunal). Some of the grounds are mandatory, some are discretionary and some have mandatory and discretionary elements.
Tenants can end the tenancy by giving their landlord at least 28 days notice.
The Scottish Government has produced handy guidance on the PRT for landlords and tenants.
Under the PRT, landlords can only increase rent once in any 12-month period and must give tenants at least three months notice. In general cases, there's no limit on the amount that rent can be increased by, but tenants can appeal to the Tribunal if they think that the proposed increase is unreasonable.
Local authorities also have the power to apply to have a particular area designated as a Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ). They have to provide Scottish Ministers with evidence that rents are rising too much, causing problems for tenants in the area and creating pressure on affordable housing. If an RPZ is designated, rent increases in that area will be capped at CPI plus 1% plus an additional amount set by Ministers (the additional amount could be zero or any increment of 0.5%).
What does this all mean?
The PRS is more secure for private renters while ensuring that landlords can still run viable businesses and continue to invest in the sector. A fine balancing act.
While local authorities play a part in enforcing these rules, it relies heavily on landlords and tenants knowing about the changes and how they should be applied. Tenants should be empowered to challenge poor landlords, safe in the knowledge that they will not face arbitrary evictions. But this relies on the assumption that tenants will be aware of their rights and have the confidence, skills and time to be able to take a case to the Tribunal.