Private Residential Tenancy- A Guide for Tenants and Landlords

On 1st December 2017, the Scottish Government launched a new type of tenancy called the Private Residential Tenancy (PRT). The purpose of this new tenancy scheme is to improve security for you as a tenant whilst also providing safeguards for the landlord. Existing tenancies and renewals of existing tenancies will not be affected, but once your existing lease ends (unless your lease contains a tacit relocation clause), the next lease you will sign will be a PRT.

What is changing?

All leases with To Rent Me are currently Short Assured Tenancies (SAT). This means your lease either has a fixed end date where you can move out or you can renew that lease for another fixed term, or your lease is renewed month to month (rolling monthly contract) and you must give us 28 days’ notice that you are leaving the property.

The new PRT is open-ended, meaning you must inform us of when you want to move out of the property. At any point during your tenancy (but not before your tenancy begins) you can serve us with a ‘Notice to Leave’ a minimum of 28 days before you wish to move out.

In addition to you choosing to move out, there are still 18 grounds on which the landlord can serve the tenant with a ‘Notice to Leave.’ A few examples of this include;

1.       The landlord decides to sell the property.
2.       The landlord decides to refurbish the property which would cause serious disruption for any tenants living there.
3.       The landlord decides to use the property for non-residential use.
4.       The tenant has breached terms of the tenancy agreement.

How will this affect you?

You will have more security in your tenancy. The landlord or letting agent cannot just decide they want you to leave the property when your tenancy comes to an end. You will decide when you want the tenancy to end but you need to give notice. Where you are on a joint lease all tenants will need to sign a Notice to Leave and agree on a date they will all vacate the property.

You will be protected from unreasonable rent increases. In the new PRT scheme landlords will only be able to increase rent once per year. Any plans to increase rent must also be submitted at least 3 months in advance of them taking affect. You can negotiate any rent increases and if need be appeal the rent review notice to a Rent Officer. This gives you plenty of time to accept the increase or not and continue with the tenancy.

The landlord will give you more notice. Unlike the tenant who only has to give 28 days’ notice, the landlord must provide the tenant with 28 days’ notice if the tenancy has continued less than 6 months or 84 days’ notice if has continued for over 6 months. The reason for the notice must also fall within one of the 18 grounds for eviction. This will give long term tenants time to arrange alternative accommodation. If a landlord services notice misleadingly then a tenant may also ask a review to be made into the landlord’s activities and a penalty may be payable to the tenant accordingly where the landlord is seen to have committed an offense.

When will I end my tenancy?

Many of our tenants are students with tenancies on a fixed-term for one year and are given the opportunity of staying in the same property for the same term for the following year. This does mean however that students who do not require to be in Dundee over the summer are liable to pay rent on a property they do not use. With the new PRT scheme, there will be more flexibility for entire groups that are not here during the summer. For example, if you and your flatmates want to move out on 1st June after you have finished university, you just need to serve your Notice to Leave to your landlord/letting agent. However, the sooner you can let us know, the quicker we can re-market the property for the next group of tenants looking for a property. We will continue to ask our student properties in November if they wish to stay in the property for a further year or move out, if you wish to move out we will ask you to serve us notice around Christmas, so we can re-market the property to students for the following year.

The downside of this flexibility is that where the re-letting period for properties previously began just before Christmas this may now gravitate more towards the summer months. You may very well not be able to secure accommodation until May, and preference may be given to tenants who will allow their tenancy to start prior to September limiting the period a property may remain empty for a landlord.

All of us at To Rent Me encourage our tenants to read their current lease fully, including all terms and conditions. The new Model tenancy was published by the Scottish Government on the 23rd October 2017 and our website will update with details of our new lease after it is reviewed. If you have any questions about your current lease or these latest changes please feel free to pop into our office at 55 Perth Road, Dundee, DD1 4HY.

For further information on the PRT, view the Scottish Government’s tenant guide here.