LSA has a long history of providing legal aid to those in the Private Rented Sector (‘PRS’), whether it be landlord/tenant disputes or homelessness issues. LSA regularly works in complex housing matters and engages with vulnerable groups such as refugees and mental health sufferers. Furthermore, LSA hosts the “Housing and Social Welfare Law Campaign Group” on a monthly basis, where PRS and other housing matters have been discussed regularly. We have been monitoring the discussion on rent controls in the PRS with interest as a greater call to protect vulnerable tenants grow.
On the 9 October 2015, the Scottish Parliament announced it was seeking views on the new Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill. The objective of the bill was to improve the security of tenure for PRS tenants by replacing the short assured tenancy and assured tenancy with a new single tenancy for the PRS. Other protections within the proposed bill include rent controls so that increases can be predictable for tenants and greater opportunities for landlord/tenant disputes to be settled at a tribunal level.
While LSA support such objectives, we are concerned over the effectiveness of the protections afforded by this new bill. Our full written submission to the Scottish Parliament can be found here, with our main concerns being summarized as follows:-
- The recovery of possession grounds/eviction grounds in the bill are heavily weighted against tenants (let alone tenants that may exhibit vulnerabilities). This undermines the objective of the bill to provide security of tenure;
- Penalties against landlords who mislead or wrongly evict tenants are too weak to act as real deterrent or provide reasonable recompense for the tenant; and
- That full access to legal advice, assistance and representation be provided for Tribunal Hearings.
LSA welcomes the opportunity to give evidence on the proposed bill, which it views as a step in the right direction but we believe improvements are required for the new bill to meet its intended aims.
LSA operates a housing drop-service where individuals can get free legal advice on housing and homeless matters at our Glasgow and Greenock offices:-
Thursday (Street Homelessness Issues only) 11.00am-1.00pm & 4.00pm-6.45pm
Full details can be found on our website http://www.lsa.org.uk.