Once you have made the decision to rent a property from a private landlord and you will discover that there are currently a number of different types of tenancy agreements.
Short assured tenancy (SAT)
The most common agreements in the private sector currently are SAT. A SAT is a special type of assured tenancy. It gives the landlord rights to repossess the house he has let and gives the tenant the right to apply to the rent assessment committee for a rent determination.
All tenants on a SAT have security of tenure for not less than six months. The landlord must give, before the tenancy agreement is signed, an AT5 notice for the tenant to read and sign, this advises the tenant that the property is on offer as a short assured tenancy.
Assured tenancy (AT)
An AT is a letting of all or part of a house made after January 1989 and is normally the tenants' only or principal home. It will not be assured if it falls into any of the excluded categories some of which are:
- a letting for a holiday
- a tenancy where the landlord is a resident landlord
- a tenancy entered into or resulting from a contract made before 2 January 1989
- a tenancy on a temporary basis for homeless persons
Assured tenants have a security of tenure, which means that the landlord must get a court order for possession before the tenant can be made to leave. The grounds for possession are detailed further below.
The tenancy agreement must be a written document and the terms of the agreement should be agreed between the landlord and the tenant before the tenant signs the agreement.
The agreement should cover:
- the length of the tenancy
- the rent, and when and how it is to be paid and how any rent increases are calculated or otherwise decided on
- who is responsible for internal decoration and internal and external repairs and maintenance
- any condition or restrictions on the use of the property
Ending the tenancy
If you have a short assured tenancy you only have security of the tenure during the agreed period of let. During that time you cannot be evicted, providing you don't break any of the tenancy conditions. At the end of the agreed period the landlord has the right to apply for repossession if he wants. However, the tenant can still stay in the property until the court grants the landlord an order for possession.
If you have an assured tenancy then you have security of tenure even when your contractual assured tenancy has ended. You do not have to leave the property unless the court has granted an order which allows the landlord to repossess the property.
The landlord must do three things before he is able to gain possession of the property these are:
- a Notice to Quit (NTQ) must be served on the tenant along with either a Section 33 Notice or
- a Notice of Proceedings (AT6) must be served indicating that he is taking proceedings to gain possession
- the landlord must obtain an order for possession from the sheriff court
If the landlord serves a NTQ but does not seek to regain possession then the contractual assured tenancy will be changed to a statutory assured tenancy. The landlord may then propose new terms for the tenancy.
Grounds for repossession
There are 17 grounds on which possession can be obtained as set out in schedule 5 to the Housing (Scotland) Act 1988. Grounds 1 to 8 are mandatory grounds - that is if they are established the sheriff must grant an order for possession. Grounds 9 to 17 are discretionary grounds - that is even if they are established the sheriff will grant an order for possession only if he believes it is reasonable to do so.
The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 means a new Private Residential Tenancy (PRT) will be introduced from 1st December 2017 for all future lets in the private rented sector. The PRT will provide security, stability and predictability for tenants and appropriate safeguards for landlords, lenders and investors.
The Scottish Government have recently published the model Private Residential Tenancy Agreement (PRT) , Easy Read Notes for the Model Tenant Agreement and the Private Residential Tenancy Statutory Supporting Notes. If you wish further information then please see New Private Residential Tenancy or alternatively contact our Private Sector Housing Unit.