Rent cap: private landlord guidance

Guidance for private landlords on the rent cap (or rent freeze) as it relates to emergency legislation subject to ongoing review and three-monthly reporting to the Scottish Parliament.


Introduction

This guidance is for private residential landlords only, and it can also be used by their letting agents[1].

(For students living in college or university accommodation, please see  Deciding Where to Live - Student Information Scotland)

The costs crisis is affecting everyone but it especially exacerbates existing social and economic pressures faced by those living in a rented home, making them more vulnerable as a whole. The First Minister's speech to Parliament for the Programme for Government on 6 September 2022, made it clear that we need to take temporary, emergency action to address these pressures, which are expected to be particularly acute in the winter given the rise in fuel use and costs during this period. The Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Act 2022  was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 6 October 2022, and came into force on 28 October 2022.

Why emergency temporary action is needed

Rented households are more likely to have lower household incomes, higher levels of poverty and to be financially vulnerable. Evidence shows that 40% of private rented households in Scotland are estimated to be financially vulnerable, with savings which would cover less than one month of income at the poverty line, compared to 24% of households buying with a mortgage and 9% of households owning outright. For social rented households 63% are estimated to be financially vulnerable and that is why we are taking temporary, emergency action on these rents too.

Tenants should continue to pay their rent during this time. Landlords can direct anyone who is struggling to pay their rent, or worried about paying their rent in the future, to sources of help for people who are experiencing financial difficulties.

In the face of the cost of living crisis, tenants may ask their landlords for a temporary change in the level of rent or the arrangements for payment. Landlords should be willing to consider such requests from the tenant to help sustain a tenancy by providing breathing space for tenants facing unexpected changes in their financial circumstances.

For avoidance of doubt, where landlords are willing to support a tenant through a reduction in rent or change in the terms of payment it is essential that both parties understand the details of the change – i.e. partial reduction in rent, rent holiday, adjustment to payment arrangement – and the timescale during which the change will be in place. It is strongly recommended that such agreements are confirmed in writing.

Purpose of this guidance

The guidance supports private landlords and their letting agents, should they use one, to meet the requirements of the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Act 2022, which came into force on 28 October 2022.

It sets out what this Act means for private landlords in terms of:

  • Rent-increase notices;
  • what steps landlords can take if they wish to make an application to the Rent Officer for a rent increase (to recover up to 50% of the increase in a six month period of any incurred prescribed property costs); and

The guidance will also be used by the Rent Officer and the First Tier Tribunal (Housing & Property Chamber), as appropriate.

If there are any queries on this guidance, email:

housing.legislation@gov.scot

If you or your tenant need more help or advice about your situation

If you are experiencing difficulty in paying your rent or are unsure of your rights then you may find it helpful to seek advice from an independent advice organisation such as Shelter Scotland or Citizens Advice Scotland. Their contact details are below.

You may find it helpful to obtain your own independent legal advice

The Scottish Government cannot give any legal advice or specific advice on individual circumstances. If you are unsure of your rights you could ask a solicitor to give you advice.

Find out more about using a solicitor, including how to find one.

Other relevant guidance for private landlords and letting agents

Private renting has guidance for landlords who wish to  rent out a property.

In addition, the Pre-action requirements and seeking repossession of private rented housing on rent arrears grounds - guidance provides information for private landlords in relation to the pre-action protocols which have been introduced by the Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) (Scotland) Act 2022, which came into force of 1 October 2022.

A brief summary of the rent cap in the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Act 2022.

 

[1] The types of tenancies affected by this Act are: Private residential tenancies under the 2016 Act;  both Assured tenancies and Short assured tenancies under the 1988 Act.

           

Back to top