No Fault Possession – the final 100 days!

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The countdown has begun!

Landlords in Scotland have just 100 days left to establish a Short Assured Tenancy (SAT) agreement, before it is replaced as the default private tenancy by the snappily titled Scottish Private Rented Tenancy (PRT).

From 1 December 2017 all new private tenancies will, by default, be formed as PRTs, making them effectively indefinite unless the tenant chooses to leave or commits a serious breach of the tenancy terms.

What? No more s33?

Introduced in the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016, the new PRT represents a major departure from the SAT, which has been the private landlords’ go-to tenancy since the Housing (Scotland) Act 1988 and which shares a great deal of common ground with the Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) operative in England and Wales.

The Scottish Government has consulted on the form of the new agreement, and intends to produce a ‘model tenancy agreement’ which landlords and agents can use or adapt as they see fit.

However, UKALA has been informed that development work is still on-going and the document, with its associated prescribed forms, is not expected to be published until mid-October.

Agents letting property in Scotland will have to act fast to adapt their systems to work with the entirely new tenancy, given that they are likely to have only around six weeks to create new processes.

What should we do?

Most landlords and letting agents will probably benefit from waiting for the Government to release the model agreement, as this will provide most of the information needed to get ready for the change and prevent potentially costly mistakes.

However, it is a good idea for agents to familiarise themselves with the new requirements. To that end the Scottish Government has produced guidance for landlords and agents, although nothing specifically aimed at letting agents.

This provides important background information about:

  • What constitutes a PRT
  • How to serve a notice to leave, and what is included in the 18 grounds for possession
  • What notice is required
  • Obtaining an eviction order
  • How local authorities can apply for rent control

In addition to how to manage pre-December 2017 tenancies.

The full overview can be found here: Information for landlords

What about the rest of my tenancies?

SATs agreed and executed before 1 December will operate as before, and will continue to benefit from the ability to serve a s33 notice. Although, you may find that landlords’ opinions of existing periodic tenancies take a turn for the better in light of the alternative.

Clients are likely to be very keen to agree new tenancies this November, although you may find applicants are more prepared to wait until they’ve opened the first door of their advent calendars.

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