The private residential tenancy

On 1 December 2017 a new type of tenancy came into force, called the private residential tenancy, it replaced assured and short assured tenancy agreements for all new tenancies.

What changes has the private residential tenancy brought in?

Any tenancy that started on or after 1 December 2017 will be a private residential tenancy. These new tenancies will bring in changes and improvements to the private rented sector, including:

  • No more fixed terms - private residential tenancies are open ended, meaning your landlord can't ask you to leave just because you've been in the property for 6 months as they can with a short assured tenancy.

  • Rent increases - your rent can only be increased once every 12 months (with 3 months notice) and if you think the proposed increase is unfair you can refer it to a rent officer.

  • Longer notice period - if you've lived in a property for longer than 6 months your landlord will have to give you at least 84 days notice to leave (unless you've broken a term in the tenancy).

  • Simpler notices - the notice to quit process has been scrapped and replaced by a simpler notice to leave process.

  • Model tenancy agreement - the Scottish Government have published a model private residential tenancy that can be used by landlords to set up a tenancy.

I'm an assured/short assured tenant

If you were already renting and were an assured or short assured tenant, on 1 December 2017, your tenancy will continue as normal until you or your landlord bring it to an end following the correct procedure. If your landlord then offers you a new tenancy this will be a private residential tenancy.

You can also come to an agreement with your landlord to change the tenancy from an assured/short assured tenancy to a private residential tenancy.

What is a private residential tenancy?

A private residential tenancy is one that meets the following conditions:

  • the tenancy started on or after 1 December 2017

  • it is let to you as a separate dwelling (home)

  • you must be an individual, meaning not a company

  • it's your main or only home

  • you must have a lease (although a written agreement is not needed for a lease to exist)

  • the tenancy is not an exempt tenancy, as listed below.

Tenancy agreements

All new private residential tenancies have the right to a tenancy agreement from the day the tenancy starts.

If you tenancy has been converted to a private residential tenancy then you should be given an agreement within 28 days of the start of the tenancy.

The Scottish Government has published a model tenancy that your landlord can use to set up a tenancy. This tenancy agreement contains certain statutory terms that outline both parties rights and obligations including:

  • The tenant's and landlord/letting agent's contact details

  • The address and details of the rented property

  • The start date of the tenancy

  • How much the rent is and how it can be increased

  • How much the deposit is and information about how it will be registered

  • Who is responsible for insuring the property.

  • The tenant has to inform the landlord when they are going to be absent from the property for more than 14 days

  • The tenant will take reasonable care of the property

  • The condition that the landlord must make sure the property is in, including the repairing standard.

  • That the tenant must inform the landlord the need of any repairs.

  • That the tenant will give reasonable access to the property, when the landlord has given at least 48 hours notice

  • The process that the tenancy can be brought to an end

If your landlord uses the Scottish Government's' model tenancy they should also give you the 'Easy Read Notes' which will explain the tenancy terms in plain English.

If your landlord does not use the model tenancy they must give you the private residential tenancy statutory terms: supporting notes, with your lease, which will explains the basic 9 set of terms that your landlord has to include in the lease.

Length of tenancy 

Private residential tenancies are open ended and have no set length such as 6 or 12 months. This means your landlord can't ask you to leave just because you've been in the property for 6 months as they could with a short assured tenancy.

Rent Increases

The rent can only be increase once every 12 months and the landlord needs to give you 3 months notice, using the correct notice of the rent increase. If you don't agree to the rent increase you can refer it to the local rent officer. The referral to the rent officer must be done within 21 days of receiving the rent increase notice.

When a referral made to the rent officer, they will first issue a provisional order which will suggest the amount the rent can be increased. You will have 14 days from the date the provisional order is issued to request a reconsideration. If you request a reconsideration the rent officer will look at it again before making a final order and telling you the date that the increase will take place.

My landlord wants to end my tenancy

A private residential tenancy can be ended by 1 of 3 ways: 

  • by a tenant giving notice and leaving (see below) or,

  • the tenant and landlord reach an agreement to leave, 

  • or your landlord wants possession of the property and obtains an eviction order from the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland Housing and Property Chamber.

Find out more about evictions.

I want to end my tenancy

If you want to end the tenancy, then you will have to give the landlord 28 days notice  in writing. The notice has to state the day on which the tenancy is to end, normally the day after notice period has expired.

You can agree a different notice period, after the start of the tenancy, with your landlord as long it is in writing. However, If there is no agreed change then 28 days notice will be the minimum required.

Landlord access

You have to allow reasonable access to your landlord to carry out repairs, inspections, or valuations when:

  • your landlord has given at least 48 hours’ written notice, or

  • access is required urgently for the landlord to view or carry out works in relation to the repairing standard

If you refuse access your landlord can make an application to the First Tier Tribunal Housing and Property Chamber who may make an order allowing them access.

Getting repairs carried out

Your landlord has to keep the property wind and watertight, and in a condition that is safe to live in. The landlord is also responsible for making sure that the property  repairing standard is met. This is a basic level of repair that is required by law. Your landlord must give you information on the repairing standard and what you can do if the property does not meet it.

If you want to carry out work on your home, such as redecorating or installing a second phone line, you will need to seek permission from your landlord. Some tenancy agreements will include a clause telling you whether you can carry out this kind of work. However, you should always speak to your landlord before first.

Can I sublet or pass my tenancy on to someone else?

You cannot sublet, take in a lodger or pass your tenancy on to someone else before first getting written agreement from your landlord.

My landlord has died or changed

If your landlord dies or changes the new landlord will have to honour the terms of your tenancy agreement. 

A change of landlord does not create a new tenancy the original contract stays in place This means that the length of time you have lived in the property must be taken into consideration with regards to length of notices given to you.   

The tenant has died

When a tenant dies the tenancy comes to an end, unless somebody living in the property can inherit the tenancy.

Tenancies that can not be private residential tenancy

Almost all new private tenancies created on or after 1st December 2017 will be private residential tenancies.

However, there are a number of exemptions, including the following:

  • Tenancies at a low rent

  • Tenancies of shops

  • Licensed premises

  • Tenancies of agricultural land

  • Lettings to students (meaning purpose built student accommodation)

  • Holiday lettings

  • Resident landlords

  • Police Housing

  • Military Housing

  • Social Housing

  • Sublet, assigned etc. social housing

  • Homeless persons

  • Persons on probation or released from prison etc.

  • Accommodation for asylum seekers

  • Displaced persons

  • Shared ownership

  • Tenancies under previous legislation

  • Assured or short assured tenancies

  • Charity providing accommodation for veterans

  • Charity providing temporary accommodation for care leavers. 

Where can I find out more?

The Scottish Government has published a guide called: Private residential tenancies: information for tenants.

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Last updated: 21 February 2020

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