Rights of a Tenant in Scottish Law

Written by noreen wainwright
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Tenants are protected by both common and statutory law in Scotland. Under the Housing Scotland Act 1988, tenants are either given an assured tenancy, which is the norm, or a short assured tenancy. In addition, the Repairing Standards legislation has established a benchmark on the standards of living accommodation landlords must provide; for example, all properties must now have smoke alarms. The Private Rented Housing Panel (PRHP) was also set up to give protection to tenants in respect to rent. It can advise and mediate in cases of rent dispute, but it also has powers of enforcement.

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Assured Tenancy

Most tenancies are assured tenancies, though exceptions are possible, for example, in cases of agricultural tenancies, holiday or student lets, or government lets. An assured tenancy protects the tenant from being forced to leave the property unless the landlord follows the correct procedure. The terms of the tenancy must be set out in a formal document, signed by both parties and given by the landlord to the tenant. The tenant must not be charged for his document. The agreement should set out the amount of rent and when and how it is to be paid. The length of the tenancy and who has responsibility for any decorating should be stated. Any restrictions or conditions should be included in this document.

Short Assured Tenancy

This tenancy must be for at least six months, and should state the period of notice. A short assured tenant must be served a notice AT5 by the landlord. The tenant with a short assured tenancy may apply to the Rent Assessment Committee for rent determination

Notice to Quit

From the time a tenant is served with a notice to quit, a statutory assured tenancy begins. This offers protection to the tenant and means that though notice to quit has been given, the tenant does not have to leave the property until further stipulations are followed. Three things have to happen before the tenant has to leave: a) the landlord must serve the tenant with a notice to quit; b) the landlord must serve the tenant with a notice indicating that he is taking proceedings to gain possession of the property; c) the order must be obtained from the sheriff's court. The tenant does not have to leave until the court has given the order

Validity of Notice to Quit

To be valid, a notice to quit must be in writing, give a period of notice and make it clear that the tenant now has (as from the serving of this notice) a statutory assured tenancy.

Notice Period

The minimum required notice period is four weeks if the rent is paid weekly, fortnightly, or monthly. If the rent is paid by the quarter, the minimum notice period is 31 days. If the rent is paid by the year, the minimum notice period is 40 days.

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