Private residential tenancy: a guide for landlords in Scotland

The Scottish private residential tenancy came into force in 2017. It’s intended to give landlords proper safeguards, while making life for tenants more predictable and stable.

It replaces the Scottish assured and short assured tenancy agreements. The new rules apply for all tenancies created on or after 1 December 2017 – here’s what you need to know.

What is a private residential tenancy?

Tenancies starting on or after 1 December 2017 are private residential tenancies. Even if you give your tenant a different type of agreement, they’ll have the protection of a private residential agreement.

Gov.scot says that any new tenancy will be a private residential tenancy as long as:

  • the property is let as a separate dwelling. The property still counts as a separate dwelling even if some of the facilities, like a bathroom or kitchen, are shared
  • it’s the tenant’s only or main home
  • the tenant pays more than £6 a week in rent, and the tenancy isn’t excluded under schedule 1 of the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016

If you give your tenant an agreement for a different type of tenancy, parts of it might not be enforceable.

It replaces the assured and short assured tenancy agreement

In practice, there aren’t many changes for experienced landlords to contend with. Your day-to-day responsibilities will largely be the same. But the National Landlords Association highlights some important differences:

  • tenancies are open-ended, lasting until the tenant wants to leave the property, or you use one (or more) of 18 grounds for eviction
  • there are standardised mandatory tenancy terms
  • there’s a no-fault possession process

How to meet the terms of the new Scottish tenancy agreement

Gov.scot say that you need to give your tenants “written tenancy terms and the relevant set of notes.”

Written tenancy terms

You need to give your tenant a written copy of the terms of the tenancy before the end of the day the tenancy starts. It needs to be signed by both parties. These signatures can be electronic, because the new tenancy isn’t subject to the Requirements of Writing (Scotland) Act 1995. This means you can type your name into the document and send it by email.

If the terms of a tenancy change after it starts, you need to give your tenant a document that explains the new terms within 28 days of the change. Gov.scot gives the example of an agreement that states the tenant can’t keep pets, but you later agree they can keep a dog in the property.

The relevant set of notes

You’re legally required to give your tenant the ‘Easy read notes for the Scottish Government model private residential tenancy agreement’ or the ‘Private Residential Tenancy Statutory Terms Supporting Notes’.

If you use gov.scot’s Scottish Government Model Private Residential Tenancy Agreement PDF or online tool, you should give your tenant the easy read notes. But if you use a bespoke agreement, you need to give them the supporting notes.

You should also give your tenants a privacy notice to comply with GDPR.

What needs to go in the private residential tenancy contract?

The National Landlords Association say the agreement needs to include:

  • the tenancy start date
  • the statutory terms contained in the Private Residential Tenancies (Statutory Terms) (Scotland) Regulations 2017
  • how much rent is due and the date it should be paid
  • a description of who’s responsible for decoration and repairs
  • any conditions or restrictions as to how the property is used
  • the responsibilities of the tenant

If you don’t give your tenants the right documents, including the supporting notes, your tenant can apply to a First-tier Tribunal.

This gives your tenant the right to compensation (potentially up to six months’ rent) – but they have to give you 28 days’ notice of their intention. If you give them the right information within those 28 days, they can’t apply to the tribunal.

Ending the private residential tenancy

Because private residential tenancies are open-ended, there are fewer options available to landlords for ending the agreement.

If your tenant wants to end the tenancy, they need to give you 28 days’ notice in writing. You can both agree a different notice period, but this should be done in writing and only after your tenant has started living in the property.

If you want to end the tenancy, you can only do so using one of 18 grounds for eviction. You need to give your tenant a notice to leave document, which you can download on the gov.scot website. In this document, you need to tell your tenant which one of these grounds you’re using and give supporting evidence.

How much notice do I need to give my tenant?

It depends. You need to give your tenant 28 days’ notice if they’ve lived at the property for less than six months.

And if you’re using one of the following six grounds for eviction that relate to the tenant’s behaviour, you need to give them 28 days’ notice regardless of how long they’ve lived at the property.

  • tenant is no longer occupying the let property
  • tenant has breached a term(s) of tenancy agreement
  • tenant is in rent arrears over three consecutive months on the date you apply to the Tribunal for an eviction order
  • tenant has a relevant criminal conviction
  • tenant has engaged in relevant antisocial behaviour
  • tenant associates with a person who has a relevant conviction or has engaged in relevant antisocial behaviour

If your tenant has lived at the property for more than six months, and the grounds for eviction isn’t one of the six above, you need to give them 84 days’ notice.

Some of the 18 grounds for eviction are mandatory. This means that if the tenant refuses to leave the property and the case goes to a First-tier Tribunal, if the Tribunal agrees that the ground exists, the tenant needs to leave.

Other grounds for eviction are discretionary, which means that even if the Tribunal agrees that they exist, it still needs to decide whether to issue an eviction notice.

Read more about the grounds for eviction here

Where can I find out more?

If you’re unsure about anything when it comes to your rights and responsibilities as a landlord, it’s important to get professional advice.

We’ve referenced gov.scot throughout this article, which has plenty of information for both landlords and tenants.

Is there anything that you’d like covered that we haven’t discussed in this article? Let us know in the comments below.

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