15 Jan 2019

What’s new for Scottish Residential Tenancies in 2019

What’s New for Scottish Residential Tenancies in 2019?

Despite a momentous couple of years for the Private Rented Sector (PRS) with an entirely new tenancy regime as well as a new judicial body to deal with disputes, the Scottish Government does not seem to have lost its appetite for legislating for the sector. Further changes are expected this year, some of which are detailed below.

Minimum Energy Efficiency

All private rented properties will need to achieve a minimum Energy Performance Certificate Rating of Band E at change of tenancy from 1 April 2020 and all properties from 31 March 2022. Beyond that, all private rented properties will need to achieve a minimum EPC rating of Band D at change of tenancy by 1 April 2022 with all properties having to comply by 31 March 2025. There will be exemptions and the Scottish Government has indicated that these exemptions and further details will be published early this year.

Repairing Standard

As the law currently stands, where a landlord is referred to the First-tier Tribunal for issues of disrepair to common property (for example common guttering and downpipes), it is no defence to say that the other common owners, who are jointly responsible for maintenance, had not consented to the repairs. From 1 March 2019, that will change. What it will mean is that, where a landlord is faced with such a situation, despite taking reasonable steps to get such consent, there will be no breach of the repairing standard in that the landlord will be treated as lacking the necessary rights to carry out the repairs.

In a further loosening of the repairing standard, from 1 March 2019, where the purpose of the let is for use for a holiday and the let does not exceed 31 days, the repairing standard will not apply.

From 1 February 2021, there is to be a more express incorporation of the “Tolerable Standard” into the repairing standard. The Tolerable Standard primarily applies to Social Housing and can be described as a ‘basic “condemnatory” standard’ or in other words, any house that fails to meet the  Tolerable Standard is not fit for human habitation. The Tolerable Standard is relevant to the PRS in that, under the current legislation, where a property does not meet the Tolerable Standard, it will not meet the Repairing Standard. Whilst further guidance on this is expected, there already exists detailed guidance for local authorities on the application of the tolerable standard.

Indeed, from the same date, the requirements in relation to smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors will be removed from the Repairing Standard and incorporated directly into the Tolerable Standard, which will bring social housing in line with properties in the PRS.

Whilst there will be some initial loosening of the Repairing Standard, as mentioned above, from 1 March 2024, there will be further amendments to it to increase its scope and coverage. These are:

  • A requirement for electrical installations to have a Residual Current Device to switch off electricity automatically where there is a fault.
  • The duty to ensure the supply of fuels is extended beyond that of just electricity and gas.
  • That there must be a fixed heating system in a property.
  • That all the common parts of a property can be safely accessed and used.
  • That there must be satisfactory provision for and safe access to food storage and a food preparation space.
  • With tenement properties, there emergency exit doors will need to be fitted with locks that can be opened from the inside without a key.

Finally, from 28 March 2027, the repairing standard will apply to other types of tenancies including Crofts, Small Holdings and agricultural tenancies.

No doubt the above will not be the only changes this year and we still have the issue of “Right to Rent” under the Immigration Acts to be resolved.

If you require any further information or advice, please contact Rory Cowan (https://bkf.co.uk/people/rory-cowan/#more-272).