New Deal for Tenants: current proposals
The Scottish Government has today published a paper and response questionnaire setting out proposals for progressing some of the matters originally consulted on in its New Deal consultation in 2021. A summary of the proposals the government is considering taking forward is set out below:
- Rent control – local authorities would be required to periodically assess rents in their area and recommend whether Scottish Ministers should impose rent controls. If rent control areas are designated, annual rent increases would be restricted by a percentage or formula for mid-tenancy increases and between tenancy increases in those areas. This would remove landlords’ rights to reset rents to market level between tenancies but only within designated rent control areas. There would be limited exceptions where higher increases would be allowed, such as for properties where improvement works have taken place. Exceptions have yet to be determined and will be set out in future legislation. Outwith rent control areas there would be no restrictions on rent increases.
- Ending joint tenancies – changes would be introduced to prevent Private Residential Tenancy (PRT) tenants being trapped in a joint tenancy they no longer wish to be part of. This would allow one tenant to give notice to end the tenancy for all tenants after a two-month consultation period. Joint tenants who wish to stay could try to negotiate terms for a new tenancy with the landlord.
- Personalisation of property – PRT tenants would be able to make certain minor modifications without consent such as putting up pictures and posters. They would also have the right to request consent to undertake certain other modifications (e.g. painting walls) that a landlord could not unreasonably refuse, although it would be possible to apply conditions when giving consent, such as that the property should be reinstated to its original condition at the end of the tenancy and/or requiring a higher deposit.
- Pets – PRT tenants would have the right to request permission to keep a pet. A landlord could not unreasonably refuse permission, although it would be possible to apply conditions when giving consent, such as requiring a higher deposit. A reasonable ground for refusal could be that the property is unsuitable for the type and number of pets requested.
- Unclaimed deposits – deposit schemes would be required to request alternative contact details from tenants when a deposit is lodged to reduce the number of deposits which go unclaimed at the end of the tenancy.
- Greater protection during eviction – the tribunal would be required to consider whether it is reasonable to delay the enforcement evictions to prevent particular hardship or harm to tenants. Some grounds would be exempt from this requirement such as anti-social/criminal behaviour and abandonment. The tribunal has always had the power to delay the enforcement of evictions but has rarely used that power in the past.
- Phasing out assured/short assured tenancies – although not mentioned in the 2021 consultation or the proposal paper published today, the response questionnaire asks for views on setting a future date by which remaining assured and short assured tenancies should be phased out.
The paper can be found here. Members are encouraged to submit their views using the questionnaire here by the deadline of 27 October 2023. Please share a copy of your response with SAL so that we can gauge members views to inform SAL’s own response.
To manage advice call volumes we ask that members do not phone the SAL advice helpline with any queries about the proposals unless they have first read the paper in full to see if their query is answered therein. Members will also have the opportunity to discuss these proposals at our online meetings.
Though the paper outlines the Scottish Government’s current plans for policy change, there is no fixed date for any of the proposals to be introduced. It would normally take around two years for policy changes to be legislated on and implemented.
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