Tenancy reform welcomed, but some concerns highlighted
Reform of legislation relating to the private rented housing sector has been applauded by the Faculty, although it has queried some aspects of the proposed changes.
In a written submission to MSPs on the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill, the Faculty said it was “undesirable” that tenants would have no right to end a tenancy during its initial period, usually six months. And it was concerned that landlords would have to wait as long as four months to seek eviction for non-payment of rent.
The Scottish Parliament’s Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee had asked for views on the Bill, and the Faculty stated in its response that reform was desirable because the previous regimes, under the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984 and the Housing (Scotland) Act 1988, had seen confusion and lack of clarity among landlords, tenants and their professional advisers “in particular in relation to security of tenure.”
One particular issue raised in relation to the Bill is the lack of a right to tenants to bring the tenancy to an end during its initial period.
“In our view, when the landlord is in breach of a fundamental aspect of a tenancy agreement – for example, the duty to provide vacant and undisturbed possession, or the duty to provide a property reasonably fit for human habitation – the tenant ought to be able to bring the tenancy to an end, whether or not the initial period is still running,” said the Faculty.
In another area, the response said: “We have previously expressed concern about the length of time which a landlord must wait before they can seek an eviction order against a tenant who is not paying rent. Under the current proposals, a period of three months must elapse…A further month must then elapse while the notice period runs out.
“It seems to us a period of four months without rent is likely to be a significant burden on small businesses in particular.”
A Response to the Scottish Government’s second consultation on a new tenancy for the private rented sector is at http://www.advocates.org.uk/news-and-responses/responses/2015/may/second-consultation-on-a-new-tenancy-for-the-private-sector