New rental laws have come into force in Scotland in a move which will affect the rights of 760,000 tenants.
Moving forward any new tenancy agreement will be a 'Private Residential Tenancy' that will have no end date and can only be terminated by a tenant giving written notice to their landlord or by the landlord using one of 18 grounds for eviction.
This new tenancy will replace the Assured and Short Assured Tenancy. But this does not affect existing tenancies which will continue on their existing Short Assured Tenancy agreements until terminated by either landlord or tenant.
If a tenant has lived in a property for longer than six months the landlord will have to give at least 84 days’ notice to leave, unless it's the tenants at fault. This effectively means the end to ‘no-fault’ evictions and tenants will have the right to challenge a wrongful termination.
Landlords will also benefit from a more accessible repossession process and a simplified way to give notice. Effectively the notice to quit and notice of proceedings processes has been scrapped and replaced by a simpler notice to leave process.
Landlords can now only increase rent once a year and are required to give tenants three months’ written notice of any rise. Tenants can challenge this rise if they think it is unfair.
Other changes mean that all landlord and tenant disputes will be heard in a new specialist tribunal and from January 2018 all letting agents will be required to register and adhere to a code of practice.
He said: "The private rental sector has grown substantially in recent years and now provides a place to call home for 760,000 people. This is the biggest change to the sector for a generation and will bring about significant improvements in private renting, benefiting both tenants and landlords.
"We want to ensure everyone has a safe and warm place to call home. The new tenancy sits alongside our wider ambitions for housing in Scotland, not least our ambitious commitment to deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes during this Parliament, including that for rent."
Another new piece of legislation means that local authorities can now apply to the Scottish government to have an area designated as a Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ) if they think rents are rising too much in a certain area. A number of councils, including Edinburgh and Glasgow, have already indicated that they are considering zones.
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: "This represents a new dawn for all private renters in Scotland. These new laws bring unprecedented security of tenure to private renters, with landlords now needing a good reason to evict tenants."