07:25, December 01 359 0 theguardian.com

2017-12-01 07:25:04
Tenancy overhaul in Scotland hailed as 'new dawn' for private renters

Housing campaigners have hailed “a new dawn for renters” as sweeping reforms to tenants’ rights have come into force across Scotland.

From Friday, anyone signing a tenancy for a private let will sign a new private residential tenancy, which brings with it significantly improved security far outstripping that available to those renting in England.

The new tenancy gives individuals longer notice periods and indefinite security of tenure, meaning an end to “no-fault’ evictions, as well as limiting rent increases to once every 12 months.

Landlord and tenant disputes will be heard at a new specialist tribunal and, from January, all letting agents will be required to register and adhere to a code of practice.

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, welcomed the changes. “Today 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,” he said.

“Shelter Scotland is pleased to be working with the Scottish government on a major awareness raising campaign to ensure that everyone involved in private renting – from tenants and landlords to letting agents and housing professionals - understand their new rights and responsibilities.”

The private rented sector makes up 15% of homes in Scotland, having increased by a third over the last two decades.

The latest English Housing Survey found similarly that the private rented sector had almost doubled since 2002, from 10% to 19%. By contrast, the social rented sector had nearly halved, from 31% of all households in 1980, to 17% in 2014-15.

Craig Paterson of Living Rent, Scotland’s tenants’ union, described the reforms as “an important first step”, but called on the Scottish government to consider implementing a “winter break” from evictions.

In France, trêve hivernale prevents landlords evicting tenants from 1 November to 31 March, reducing homelessness during winter.