Student Accommodation

This section looks at issues in relation to 'student lettings'. In particular it explains the rights of tenants in student lettings to give notice as a result of emergency provisions brought in during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

This content applies to Scotland

Introduction: student housing

Many students rent from a private landlord either on their own or as part of a flatshare. In such cases advisers should check the relevant section based on the type of tenancy held.

Where this is unclear advisers can use the tenancy checker tool.

However, halls of residence and purpose-built student accommodation are excluded from the statutory tenancy types. As such, the rights of students living in these types of accommodation depend mainly on the terms in their contract and on common law.

Coronavirus emergency measures

During the Coronavirus outbreak, almost all university and college courses either ended early or moved online. As such, many students did not want to remain staying in halls. However, many were prevented from giving notice before the end of their contract. Some students found themselves being held liable for rent for the remainder of the contract. The Scottish Government introduced legislation intended to tackle this issue by giving such tenants a legal right to end their tenancy by giving notice. These are detailed below.

Student lettings: right to terminate tenancy

During the period covered by the legislation, a tenant of a ‘student letting’ has the legal right to give notice to their landlord which will end their tenancy. [1] This is a statutory right which means applies even if their written contract says notice cannot be given. The law is intended to be temporary and to prevent hardship amongst tenants in student accommodation by allowing them to end their contract early if they need to.  

Duration of right to terminate

Tenants in student lettings are entitled to give 28 days notice to terminate a tenancy until 31 March 2022. [2] The right to give 7 days notice will expire on 30 September 2021. [3]

Scottish Ministers may further extend the right to terminate until 30 September 2022. [4]

Definition of student letting

When referring to ‘student lettings’ in this context, the legislation defines these as student accommodations which are currently excluded from being a private residential tenancy. [5] Broadly, these are halls of residence and purpose-built student accommodation owned by private providers.

Student lettings are defined as either:

  • Lettings to students, where the student is renting accommodation from their educational establishment. These include halls of residence for most universities, central institutions, designated institutions, further education colleges, colleges of education and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. If there is uncertainty the legislation provides a comprehensive list, [6] or

  • Purpose-built accommodation owned by private providers where: [7]

    - Planning permission was given for the property on the basis that the let property would be used predominantly for housing students and

    - The landlord lets or is entitled to let other buildings in the same complex and

    - The let property and other properties include at least 30 bedrooms and

    - The landlord uses or intends to use the other properties predominately for the purpose of housing students.

  • Planning permission was given for the property on the basis that the let property would be used predominantly for housing students and

  • The landlord lets or is entitled to let other buildings in the same complex and

  • The let property and other properties include at least 30 bedrooms and

  • The landlord uses or intends to use the other properties predominately for the purpose of housing students.

Notice period and requirements

The minimum notice periods that apply are: [8]

  • Where the tenant was living in the tenancy before 27 May 2020 – 7 days notice

  • In any other case - 28 days

For a notice to be valid it must be: [9]

  • in writing (this includes electronic communications) and

  • it must state the day on which the tenancy is to end, (this needs to be the day after the last day of the minimum notice period).

Students in other tenancy types

The new legislation does not affect students who live other tenancy types, for example students who live in a private residential tenancy or short assured tenancy.

For information on notice requirements for these tenancy types see the relevant page or pages in the section on Security of Tenure.

Last updated: 5 August 2021

Footnotes

  • [1]

    s.9(1)-(4) Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020

  • [2]

    para.2 sch.1 Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020, as amended

  • [3]

    s.2(8) Coronavirus (Extension and Expiry) (Scotland) Act 2021

  • [4]

    s.1(6) Coronavirus (Extension and Expiry) (Scotland) Act 2021

  • [5]

    para.1(1) sch.1 Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020

  • [6]

    para.5 sch.1 Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016

  • [7]

    para.5(4) sch.1 Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016

  • [8]

    para.2 sch.1 Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020

  • [9]

    para.3(2) and 3(3) sch.1 Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020