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Scottish PRS landlords and letting agents face a raft of new regulations

9th May 2019

Keeping up to date and compliant with new rules in the fast changing and strictly regulated private rented sector (PRS) will help you avoid potential claims or disputes. If you are a landlord or letting agent, here’s a quick guide to the recent changes to some of the rules which are now in force.  

Data protection compliance for Scottish Private Residential Tenancy (SPRT) agreements

The Government has introduced a new Privacy Notice to ensure conformance with the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). It notifies tenants about their Data Protection rights and how to action them. If you are an agent acting on behalf of a landlord, you need to provide your details in the Privacy Notice to advise the tenant that their personal details are shared with both you and the landlord. 

New wording for Notice to Quit (not relevant for SPRT tenancy agreements)

Current template Notices to Quit should set out the prescribed information, usually at the foot of the Notice. Where the word “Court” is used, this should be replaced with "the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland Housing and Property Chamber". 

Any application for repossession of residential property let under a tenancy agreement must now be made to the First-tier Tribunal and not the Court. This must be changed before any new Notices to Quit are sent out to a tenant. It is also necessary to ensure any Notice to Quit is completed and served as required by the law. 

Changes affecting repossession of your property or recovery of rent arrears

A number of changes came into force on 20 February 2019 by way of the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland Housing and Property Chamber (Procedure) Amendment Regulations 2017. These might be important when considering raising an application to the First-tier Housing Tribunal (FTT) for repossession of your property or for recovery of rent arrears. 

  • The appeal period following a decision of the FTT is reduced from 28 days to 21 days. This is usually calculated from the date of the written decision, and not the date of a Case Management Discussion (CMD) or a hearing.
  • If your tenant is in rent arrears or you are requesting payment from your tenant for any other reason, you can now claim for interest on the sum due.
  • If you do not know where your previous tenant now lives but you have a claim you want to raise against them, service by advertisement on the website of the First-tier Tribunal for not less than 14 days is now a competent method of service.
  • A party may request to amend their application (so long as they are not raising a new issue) by intimating it to any other party and the FTT at least 14 days in advance of a CMD or a hearing. 

Changes to the Repairing Standard from 1 March 2019

The new requirements:

  • The Tolerable Standard - this is a basic level of repair your property must meet to make it fit for a person to live in. It has been a legal requirement since 1987. Tenants can now apply to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland Housing and Property Chamber where there is a failure by their landlord to meet the Tolerable Standard, and not just for failure to meet the Repairing Standard, as was previously the case.
  • Safely accessible and satisfactory food storage and food preparation space.
  • A fixed heating system.
  • Safe access and use of any common parts (e.g. a common access or stair).
  • Where the house is a tenement, secure common doors, with a satisfactory emergency exit.
  • A residual current device (a circuit breaker). 

The new exceptions:

  • Tenements - If your property is a tenement or a building that would qualify as a tenement under the Tenement (Scotland) Act 2004, you are now provided a degree of protection. Where work intended to be carried out cannot be agreed by a majority of owners, a landlord is to be treated as “lacking necessary rights” and you could not therefore be found to be in breach of the Repairing Standard. We suggest you must take active steps to fix a problem and you may be required to call a meeting and hold a vote to show you have made a genuine attempt to comply with the Repairing Standard.
  • Holiday lets - You are not subject to the Repairing Standard where your tenancy does not exceed 31 days where the purpose of the tenancy is to confer on the tenant the right to occupy the house for a holiday.

Get in touch with Lindsays’ Property Disputes team if you are a landlord or agent looking for advice. 

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