Scotland politics

MSPs approve new regulations for tenants and landlords


MSPs have approved new rules for landlords and tenants to regulate the private rental sector.

The Private Housing (Tenancies) Bill creates a streamlined system aimed at protecting tenants from the threat of unfair eviction and big rent increases.

The Scottish Association of Landlords had claimed the bill could drive some renters out of the market.

After a lengthy debate in which a number of amendments were considered, MSPs voted for the bill by 84 to 14.

The provisions are aimed at creating a modernised system which is easier for tenants to understand.

During debate of the bill, Housing Minister Margaret Burgess announced that if the SNP are re-elected in May, fees will not be charged for tenants or landlords going to a tribunal.

Ms Burgess, who is stepping down at the Holyrood election in May, said the bill as it stands will allow tenants to feel "more secure in their homes".

She it was necessary to legislate to "rebalance" the relationship between landlords and tenants a fairer one, adding that there had been a "collaborative" approach to the bill.

Image caption Margaret Burgess is stepping down from Holyrood at May's election

Student accommodation is exempted from the bill, but Ms Burgess said in the private rented sector all tenants should be treated the same, including students.

Labour supported the government, with Ken Macintosh said the bill could have been done better and done sooner, but described it as "a good step forward".

The Scottish Conservatives did not support the legislation, with Alex Johnstone saying the government had come down on the side of the tenant and saying more should have been done for landlords.

He said: "We should have done more to create a proper balance between landlord and tenant."

The Lib Dems also backed the bill, while Green MSP Patrick Harvie said Holyrood should be more "bold" and "radical" to close the gap between the social rented sector and the private rented sector.

Provisions of the Private Housing (Tenancies) Bill include:

  • A more streamlined system with no confusing pre-tenancy notices, modernised grounds for repossession and easier-to-understand tenancy agreements
  • Legislation which will mean tenants can no longer be asked to leave their home simply because the tenancy has reached its end date
  • Landlords will have modern protection for repossessing their property, such as intention to sell or move in themselves
  • Rent increases limited to only one per year, with three months' notice - designed so tenants will have advance notice of changes, and can budget accordingly
  • The opportunity for local authorities to implement rent controls in areas where there are excessive increases in rents and a concern about the impact this is having on tenants and the wider housing system
  • More progressive repossession grounds for rent arrears cases, as well as new repossession grounds introduced for landlords where they want to sell their property or the tenant has abandoned the property

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