Private residential tenancy: information for tenants

Guidance for private sector tenants on the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016.

Rent and other charges

The 2016 Act tells your landlord how they can increase the rent and what other charges they can make.

If you make any rent payments in cash, your landlord has to give you a written receipt saying how much was paid, the date you paid and how much you still owe them.

Increasing your rent

If your landlord wants to increase the amount of rent you pay, they have to give at least three months' written notice before they can do it. They must use the correct form to let you know that they intend to do this – it's called a 'landlord's rent-increase notice to tenant(s)'.

The notice period begins on the date you get the notice, and ends three months after that date on the same day of the month (see example 1) or, if there is no such date, the last day of the month (see example 2). So if your landlord sends you the rent increase notice by post or email, they must allow you 48 hours to receive it. This delivery time should be factored into the amount of notice they give you.

Example 1

If your landlord sends you a rent increase notice by recorded delivery post on 23 January, you will be expected to receive the notice on 25 January; the three month notice period will start on 25 January and end on 25 April, so the earliest date a rent increase could take effect would be 26 April.

Example 2

If the three month notice period starts on 30 November, the end date of the notice period would be 28 or 29 February (depending on whether it was a leap year), and the earliest date a rent increase could take effect would be 1 March.

Your landlord can only increase the rent once in a year (they have to wait 12 months before it can be increased again).

If you disagree

If you think the rent increase is too high, you can contact a rent officer. They have the power to decide what the rent for the property should be. A rent officer will aim to send you a copy of their decision within 40 days of receiving your fully completed application. Remember that a rent officer can put the rent up for the property if they decide it should be higher, as well as putting it down if they think it is too high.

If you decide to do this, you must contact a rent officer within 21 days of your landlord giving you notice of the rent increase.

You must also tell the landlord you're contacting a rent officer. You do this by completing Part 3 of the 'landlord's rent-increase notice to tenant(s)' and returning it to your landlord.

If you or your landlord disagrees with the rent officer's decision you can ask them to reconsider it, or appeal to the First-tier Tribunal, who will make a final decision, which may agree with the amount set by the rent officer or be higher or lower. If you want to appeal to the Tribunal, you must do this within 14 days of the rent officer's decision.

If the rent officer or First-tier Tribunal decides that your rent should be increased, you will have to pay the increased amount from the date in the original rent increase notice from your landlord.

Illegal charges

Other than the rent, your landlord can ask you to pay a refundable deposit.

This deposit can be no more than two months' rent.

It's an offence for your landlord to make you pay any other:

  • administration fees
  • premiums
  • further deposits
  • additional charges, whether they're refundable or not

If you think you have been charged an illegal fee you may be able to claim this back and the landlord may be guilty of an offence.

Rent pressure zones

If a local council thinks rents are rising too much in a certain area, they can apply to Scottish Ministers to have that area designated as a 'rent pressure zone'.

This means a cap (a maximum limit) is set on how much rents are allowed to increase each year in that area for existing tenants who have a private residential tenancy.

Scottish Ministers must consult landlords' and tenants' representatives before they make any area a rent pressure zone.

Local councils can apply to have an area turned into a rent pressure zone if they can prove that:

  • rents in the area are rising too much
  • the rent rises are causing problems for the tenants
  • the local council is coming under pressure to provide housing or subsidise the cost of housing as a result

What the rent cap might look like

Any cap set by Scottish Ministers will be at least consumer price index (CPI) plus 1%, for example if CPI is 1.6%, the minimum cap set by Ministers would be 2.6%.

The cap can last for up to five years and will apply to existing tenants who have a private residential tenancy only.

The Rent Pressure Zone Requirements for Local Authorities document guides local authorities on the requirements of an application to Ministers and provides details of the robust evidence required.

Increasing your rent to reflect improvements

If your property is in a rent pressure zone, your landlord can apply to a rent officer for an additional amount of rent to reflect any improvements they have made to the let property.

These improvements don't include:

  • any repairs or maintenance
  • decorative work
  • any work done which was entirely or partly paid for by you

Find out if your property is in a rent pressure zone.

After your landlord applies to the rent officer, the rent officer will send you a copy of the application. You will have 14 days to respond if you want to 'submit a representation' (give your side of the story).

Before the rent officer decides on the amount your landlord can increase the rent by, they will send you and your landlord a draft of the proposed decision. They will aim to send you this draft decision within 35 days of receiving your landlord's fully completed application form.

If your landlord wants to respond to this, they have 14 days. You will then get a copy of their response, and will have 14 days to reply.

The rent officer has to take all responses into account when coming up with a decision. The rent officer's decision is final and can't be appealed.


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