PRTs: Big Changes for Scottish Landlords
As of 1 December 2017 Private Residential Tenancies (PRTs) replace Short Assured Tenancies in Scotland. Landlords in Scotland may no longer offer ASTs to private residential tenants. This brings in huge changes to the private rental sector in Scotland.
Existing short assured tenancy agreements will continue to run until terminated by either the landlord or tenant, but any new private residential tenancies from today must be Private Residential Tenancies.
Key Features of PRTs
Here is a summary of the key Features of Private Residential Tenancy Agreements:
No fixed period and no end date
Tenancy agreements can be for any length of time with no fixed period and no end date. Once in force The tenancy can be ended by either the landlord or tenant. If the tenant wants to end the agreement then they must give the landlord 28 days' notice in writing (unless the landlord agrees, in writing, to a shorter notice period). The landlord can only bring the agreement to and end by relying on one of the 18 specified grounds and giving the correct amount of notice in writing. If the tenant has been in the property for no more than 6 months then the landlord must give the tenant 28 days' notice, 84 days' notice otherwise.
"No fault" termination gone
The "no fault" ground for terminating a tenancy (after the fixed period) under a short assured tenancy is gone. Landlords must rely on one or more of the 18 specified grounds to terminate a tenancy and evict tenants. Some of the grounds are mandatory (i.e. the Tribunal must issue an Eviction Order if the conditions of the ground is met) and some discretionary.
Many of the grounds are the same as those available to landlords using short assured tenancies. The most common grounds likely to be used include:
- the tenant has been in rent arrears for 3 or more consecutive months
- the tenant is in breach of the tenancy agreement
- the tenant is not occupying the property as their main or only home
- the tenant has been found guilty of certain crimes or or anti-social behaviour
- the landlord (or their mortgage lender) intends to sell the property
- the landlord intends to refurbish the property
- the landlord (or a family member) intends to live in the property as their only or main home.
There are no pre-tenancy notices (such as the AT5 or Ground 2 Notice) to serve and only one form of Notice to Quit.
Rent Increases and Rent Pressure Zones
The landlord can review the rent once a year and must serve the tenant a Rent Increase Notice at least 3 months before the date the rent is to go up. If the tenant thinks that the rent increase is unfair then they can apply to a Rent Officer to determine if it is fair. The tenant must apply within 21 days of receiving a Rent Increase Notice.
For properties in a designated rent pressure zone the landlord cannot increase rent above the rent cap.
The Model Private Residential Tenancy Agreement
The Scottish government has produced a FREE model PRT agreement in template fomat. This template can be downloaded and edited to produce a bespoke tenancy agreement for any Scottish private residental let. The official template contains all the prescribed clauses and a range of optional clauses that can be included or excluded as suits the landlord e.g. pets, smoking, private gardens, shared parts. A rent guarantor section is also included so a separate Rent Guarantee agreement is not necessary.
Terminating existing Short Assured Tenancy Agreements
Short assured tenancy agreements made before 1 December 2017 will continue to be governed by the Housing (Scotland) Act 1988. This means that the process and grounds for terminating a pre-PRT tenancy agreement remain unchanged and the following documents will still be used: