Rented housing on farms and estates has been the cornerstone of rural communities for hundreds of years. Over that time legislation and policy has gradually changed, but have we ever seen so much change in such a short period of time as we have over the last few years?
On this Landlord Day we consider one of the key changes the sector currently faces – the new tenancy regime.
From the 1st of December, it will not be possible to create new Short Assured Tenancies. Instead landlords and tenants will enter into Private Residential Tenancies (PRTs) which offer tenants greater security of tenure. The tenancy will be open-ended and will last until a tenant wishes to leave or the landlord uses one (or more) of 18 grounds for eviction.
Scottish Land & Estates lobbied hard for rural circumstances to be recognised in the new regime. The rural private rented sector does not have the same characteristics as the urban sector which is problematic when changes are not flexible enough to successfully work for all situations. For example, under the new tenancy regime there is no ability to ask a tenant to leave when the property is required for a new or retiring employee. And although anti-social behaviour is listed as a ground for eviction, a landlord will have to prove anti-social behaviour has taken place to such an extent that the tenant should lose their home. This is something which may be easy in cities or towns but may be very difficult in a remote location and could cause significant confrontation.
Disputes under the new tenancy will be heard by the Housing and Property Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal. Once this is up and running we hope it will deliver a quicker and fairer system delivered by housing experts. Considering the strength of the tenant’s position in the new tenancy, we cannot have the continuation of a slow legal system which repeatedly fails to enforce legislation robustly.
There were missed opportunities for this change in regime to work for both landlords and tenants and to secure a continued, or even enhanced, supply of rural privately rented homes. As PRTs are let from December onwards the reactions and subsequent impacts on the market will become apparent. We just hope politicians’ minds are open to amendments if unintended consequences put rural businesses and communities at risk.
Katy Dickson, Senior Policy Officer (Property, Business and Connectivity)