Tenants now have their own union in Scotland

Over the last few years, Scotland has led the way in increasing legislation in favour of tenants in the Private Rented Sector (PRS). The latest move has been to launch their own tenant union!

Currently, if you rent property out in Scotland (regardless of where you might live as a landlord), you have to abide by more rules and regulations than landlords with properties in the rest of the UK.

For example, you are required to:

  1. Be registered. This is to ensure that you are a ‘fit and proper’ person to be a landlord and one who will meet the minimum standards required in the PRS. By having a register like this, it means local authorities, neighbours and tenants can easily find out who owns and lets property.
  2. Have up to date electrics. From 1st December 2015, landlords in Scotland have been responsible for ensuring an electrical safety inspection is carried out by a registered electrician at least every five years.
  3. Have quality fire safety. This specifies that a “Grade D system” should be installed, which is a requirement for new build properties across the whole of the UK, but not necessarily all rented properties. Grade D requires landlords to have smoke/heat detectors that are mains powered with a battery back-up.

And more legislation is on its way, with the passing of the new ‘Private Tenancies Bill’ in March. This has been introduced to help bring the lettings system more into line with modern-day living, where more people are wanting to rent for the longer term. It:

  1. Introduces a new tenancy agreement to replace the ‘assured’ system
  2. Stops landlords from asking a tenant to leave just because the contract’s fixed term ends
  3. Improves the robustness of grounds for landlords to repossess the property
  4. Introduces local rent controls in specific areas within Scotland.

These changes were bought in partly as a result of the work of a tenant group called Living Rent. Liz Ely from the organisation stated that the passing of this latest Bill, “marks an incredible first step towards decent housing for Scotland’s private sector tenants.”

Having been run for 18 months, Living Rent has now re-launched as ‘Living Rent: Scotland’s Tenants Union’. They describe it as: ‘a democratic organisation run by and for tenants’. They are also happy for non-tenants to lend their support, although non-tenants can’t vote on any issues.

This new union, which already meets regularly in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, plans to:

  1. Have a national conference each year
  2. Take part in shaping regional and national campaigns
  3. Get involved in local groups.

And they hope that some of their membership fees will go towards a hardship fund for tenants in financial difficulty.

For any tenants and those involved in the private rented sector that want to find out more about Living Rent, visit their website.

This information has been provided by our partner Mortgage Advice Bureau. For more information relating to Mortgages or for Mortgage Advice please visit Mortgage Advice Bureau.