New bill will improve protection for private renting tenants
Housing campaigners have welcomed a new bill aiming to give more security, stability and predictability to tenants renting in the private rented sector.
The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) bill will protect 700,000 people from the prospect of unforeseen and unfair eviction and unpredictability over rent increases, as well as ensuring the sector is attractive to investors, with better management and regulation.
Among the proposals, new legislation will allow ministers to introduce local rent controls for tenants in areas under rent pressure.
Consultation with landlords and tenants would be part of this process, with ministers deciding on rent caps for a period of time not exceeding five years.
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter, said the bill represents the biggest move forward in private tenancy law in the last quarter of a century and welcomed the progressive changes.
“The private rented sector in Scotland has doubled over the last 10 years and is now home to more than 330,000 households – 85,000 with children. This growth and change in types of people living in the sector means the tenancy regime needs a major overhaul.
“Shelter Scotland hopes this bill will rebalance the relationship between tenant and landlord by improving security of tenure for private renters and laying down a clear, modernised new tenancy, benefiting landlords and tenants alike.
The new leases will allow tenants to stay in property that they want to make their home
Homeless Action Scotland also welcomed the bill. Chief executive Robert Aldridge said: “Too many people in Scotland have become homeless simply because their private tenancy is ended for no reason.
“This new bill brings Scottish private tenancies into the 21st century and restores a fair balance between the rights of tenants and the interests of private landlords. It means landlords must have a good reason to end a tenancy. So it gives tenants stability and security which can make private renting a realistic medium term option for families with children and prevents unnecessary homelessness.”
Campaigners say the abolition of no fault eviction is a major step forward and, combined with a flexible and secure tenancy, will help families put down roots in their communities and help people to stay in their home for as long as they need.
Citizens Advice Scotland said housing and tenancy cases are among the issues most commonly brought to the CAB service.
CAS spokesman Fraser Sutherland said: "We welcome the introduction of this new bill which will make private rented tenants’ rights stronger than ever before.
“For many years CAS and others have called for action against rogue landlords who use the threat of unfair evictions to get their way, for example by stopping complaints about necessary repairs.
"The new leases will allow tenants to stay in property that they want to make their home without threat of irresponsible evictions.
“This bill is also good news for responsible landlords too, as they will have better rights against problem tenants who refuse to pay rent.”
Housing minister Maragret Burgess added: “The range of measures brought forward under this bill will ensure the private rented sector is better managed, simplified and successful, and creates a system that works for everyone.”