By Amy Laird, Senior Surveyor, Lanark
The Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) Scotland Bill, was passed on the 6th of October 2022 and became an act on the 27th October 2022. The key points of the bill are as follows:
1) Restricting landlords from increasing the amount of rent they can charge on residential tenancies, to a maximum of 3% increase per annum. (In some circumstances where landlords increased costs can be proven via an application to a rent officer, a 6% increase will be permitted)
2) Ban on evictions unless exceptional circumstances apply until 30th September 2023
In an update from the Scottish government on the 1st of June 2023, a statement of reasons has been published in support of extending the act. Thus, allowing it to extend for a further final 6 months, to expire on the 31st March 2024. We expect to receive confirmation of this in the coming weeks.
The act has been passed as a means of protecting tenants from financial and physical hardship during the cost-of-living crisis. Whilst a great number of tenants will benefit from the restrictions on rent reviews and eviction bans, I believe the long-term results will be contrary to the objectives of the bill:
Restricting the ability to increase rent will force landlords to take reactive measures and adopt a robust procedure to see themselves through the restrictive period. It may also reduce the number of let properties available with some let properties no longer being viable.
The cost of living crisis is having an impact on landlords too, property maintenance costs have increased by 10% in the last year, and the cost of insuring properties is ever-increasing. With these immediate challenges at the forefront of their attention, landlords should also consider the objectives for climate change mitigation and the Energy Performance Legislation which is on the horizon.
During this challenging time, my advice to landlords is to be proactive with the management of your property or portfolio.
Undertake your rent reviews whenever possible. Diarise your review dates and the dates for sending your notices. This will help keep up with market rent.
To avoid costly refurbishment projects, consider taking a proactive phased maintenance approach, little and often. To avoid costly replacements caused by neglect it is crucial that you keep on top of your routine maintenance, particularly at the fabric of the building. During maintenance, consider additions to improve energy efficiency. For example, if your flooring is being lifted, consider having insulation laid beneath it whilst the flooring is lifted.
When reletting, landlords should adopt an organised strategy for finding the most suitable tenant and ensure market rent is being sought. In the past, a lower rent could be collected at the start of a tenancy and brought to market level by rent reviews, but with the current regulations, this is no longer the case. Time should be taken to undertake thorough reference and credit checks to ensure the tenant is suitable for the property and able to afford the rent. Ensure that a positive relationship is built from the off as this will help when agreeing rent reviews or vacant possession.
D&R is assisting a wide range of clients with property portfolios, and we can assist you with your property management with services ranging from residential advice to full estate management.
For more information contact your local D&R team or Amy Laird on 01555 666 655