Tenants in Scotland are well protected by general law as well as specific tenancy law. Landlords are required to provide safe and well-maintained properties and tenants have the right to remain in residence unless they breach the tenancy agreement, or the landlord has a sound reason for recovering possession.
Types of Tenancy
The rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords will depend to some extent on the type of tenancy agreement which is in place. Although a tenancy agreement may limit or extend rights or obligations to either party, it can never override the law.
All tenancies in Scotland which began after 1st December 2017 are Private Residential Tenancies (PRT). PRTs replaced the previous assured and short assured tenancies. In most cases the tenancy agreement will include useful information on rights and obligations as well as the essentials such as rent, deposit and significant dates.
Landlords are obliged to comply with the repairing standards. Among other things they must ensure the outside of the property is in good condition, so that it is wind and water tight. The property must be fit to live in. All installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity, and for sanitation, heating and hot water must be in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order.
There are detailed guidelines on ensuring gas and electrical safety in rented properties. Gas appliances must be checked annually by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer and carbon monoxide detectors must be fitted in all rooms containing a combustion device unless it is used solely for cooking. Regular checks must be carried out on the electrical wiring installation and appliances. All gas and electrical safety certificates must be provided to tenants.
The Scottish government have also provided detailed guidance on ensuring fire safety. In practice, smoke detectors must be installed in all lounges and hallways, and heat detectors must be provided in all kitchens. The detectors must be inter-linked, so that if one alarm is activated, the others also sound. The detectors can be mains wired or battery powered. If they are battery powered, they must be sealed units with a minimum lifetime of 10 years.
There are also requirements for Legionella Risk Assessment and fire safety of furniture.
Rent Increases & Security Deposits
Under the PRT rules, landlords must give three months’ notice of any rent increase and there must be a minimum of 12 months between increases. If a tenant believes any proposed increase to be unreasonable, they can apply to Rent Service Scotland for a rent adjudication.
Security deposits must be protected within 30 working days of the start of the tenancy at one of the three approved Tenancy Deposit Schemes in Scotland. Landlords must also provide prescribed information to their tenant covering where and when the deposit was protected. Tenants can pursue their landlord for failing to protect their deposit or to provide the prescribed information within 30 working days. The penalty, which is paid from the landlord to their tenant, can be up to three times the deposit amount.
In summary, Scotland has a fair amount of legal protection in place for tenants. The regulations here are stricter in most respects than in other parts of the UK.
If you’d like advice about your legal obligations as a landlord in Scotland, we’d be happy to help. Contact us about our services for landlords today.