Both landlords and tenants have told us this new law will mean a modern and fit-for-purpose sector. This range of measures will ensure the sector is better managed, simplified and successful for all in the private rented sector. I am delighted that this bill has passed with cross party support.
Margaret Burgess, SNP
A shortage of affordable and social housing has seen rapid growth in the private rented sector, now home to 360,000 households in Scotland. The number of households in the private rented sector in Scotland has tripled since 1999.
Shelter Scotland identified that the scale of growth in the private rented sector and the changing nature of tenants meant that tenancy arrangements no longer provided the security or the quality from which both tenants and landlords benefit. Over the past 10 years, the charity has campaigned for and worked towards positive changes across the private rented sector in Scotland.
Graeme Brown, director at Shelter Scotland, said: “We have always engaged with private renting policy and law as so many of our clients come from that sector. Since the early 2000s, there had been a series of reforms, to licensing and standards, for example. However, it was increasingly clear that the 1988 tenancy arrangements were no longer suitable for the more diverse profile of tenants: not just students and young people, but families with children too.”
The Scottish Government had carried out its own review of private renting in 2008 and 2009 and was receptive to the need for wider reform. An independent chair was appointed and a series of working groups established to go through options for change.
Brown continued: “We built a well-evidenced case for reform, through research, policy papers, public facing campaigns and events, arguing change was a necessity for a well-functioning system, and recommended a model for an indefinite tenancy. The biggest challenge, as expected, was from landlords who argued it would lead to landlords exiting from the market. However, we also argued that it would benefit good landlords with long term investment intentions.”
Shelter Scotland ran its Making Renting Right campaign during the legislative process, building support from a coalition of over 30 organisations. Staff held meetings with MSPs, had campaign days across Scotland, provided briefings, and gave evidence to committees.
Shelter Scotland clients were put at the heart of the campaign, providing case studies of tenants unwilling to complain about issues such as damp or repairs in case they got evicted. Politicians from all parties were urged to sign up to the campaign and their photos published on the charity’s website.
The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 came into force on 1 December 2017 and introduced the new private residential tenancy. The act meant the end of fixed term tenancies and ‘no fault’ evictions, where landlords could make tenants leave for no reason.
The new tenancy is open-ended and lasts until the tenant wishes to leave the property or the landlord uses one of 18 grounds for eviction.
The legislation is one of the most progressive measures in housing in UK in the last 20 years, seeking to address some of the imbalance of power between tenants and landlords.