The ‘no fault’ ground for taking back possession of a rental property will no longer be legal in Scotland from December 1.
A new model tenancy agreement has been issued by the Scottish government and will have to be used by agents.
The new Private Rental Tenancy (PRT) replaces Assured or Short Assured agreements, known in Scotland as SATs. It will not affect existing agreements, but will have to be used for all new tenancies.
It gives 18 statutory grounds for a landlord to end a tenancy which include the landlord wanting to sell, occupy the property themselves, or refurbish it.
Other grounds include where a tenant has owed rent for three consecutive months, has shown anti-social behaviour or abandoned the property. However, there is no ground equivalent to Section 21, where landlords do not have to give a reason for wanting their property back.
Another change is the notice period.
The PRT does not allow for tenants and landlords to agree a minimum period for occupancy, and the tenancy continues automatically.
If tenants want to leave they must give the landlord 28 days notice in writing.
Adrian Sangster, of Aberdeen agent Aberdein Considine, said: “While removal of the no fault ground is a major change, the new 18 specified grounds to recover possession do cover the majority of reasons for wishing to do so.
“The biggest impact is the removal of the minimum term which means in theory a tenant could serve 28 days notice a day after moving in.
“In practice this is unlikely to occur as the vast majority of tenants are looking for a home, and if the landlord keeps up their side of the bargain by providing a safe and comfortable environment, tenants will stay.
“In our own experience the average tenancy lasts in the region of 18 months.
“Where I’m less certain however is what the attitude of lenders will be where the property is mortgaged.
“Currently as long as the rent covers the mortgage and a six month SAT is in place, the majority will be reasonable to deal with.
“However, where that six-month term is no longer available, will they become less likely to grant approval to let? I am not sure what discussions the Scottish Government have had with lenders regarding this issue.”
ARLA is holding a series of workshops in Scotland to explain the changes, starting next week.
There has already been some pressure in England for ASTs to be replaced and the ‘no fault’ ground to be abolished. It has also been noticeable that trends in Scotland – bans on letting agent fees and compulsory registration – tend to be subsequently copied in England.