Cost of Living: Rent Freeze Legislation

The Scottish Government has now brought in emergency legislation to protect tenants during this crisis from excessive rent increases and eviction.

Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Act 2022 

What is this? 

The Scottish Government has now brought in emergency legislation titled the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Act 2022 to protect tenants during this crisis from excessive rent increases and eviction. This covers both private sector tenants and those living in student accommodation blocks.  

Importantly, there remains certain exemptions allowing landlords to still formally request a rent increase or apply for evictions.  

Below we have included a few common questions that you might have on this new legislation.  

How long does it last? 

This Act is initially in force from 6th September 2022 and expires on 31st March 2023, however the legislation allows the potential for this to be extended until 31st March 2024. 

The rent freeze: My landlord has sent me a rent-increase notice before 6th September 2022, does this mean I have to pay this? 

If you were sent a rent-increase notice before 6th September 2022, this legislation does not cover you. However, you may be able to challenge this by applying to have a rent officer review the increase. If you intend on trying to challenge a rent increase not covered by the new legislation we’d encourage you to contact the Advice Centre for further information & support. 

I’ve been sent a rent-increase notice after 6th September 2022 – is this allowed? 

This legislation does allow rent increases of up to 3% under certain circumstances. This can occur when the landlord has incurred increased “prescribed property costs”. The legislation defines the prescribed property costs as: 

  • (a) interest payable in respect of a mortgage or standard security relating to the let property,  
  • (b) a premium payable in respect of insurance (other than general building and contents insurance) relating to the let property and the offering of the property for let 
  • (c) service charges relating to the let property that are paid for by the landlord but the payment of which the tenant is responsible (Please note that these only applicable if your tenancy agreement states you have to pay something towards these) 

In simplified terms, this means a rent increase could be permitted if the landlord can demonstrate that their mortgage, insurance or service charges for the property have increased. 

However, a landlord can only increase the rent based on up to 50% of these property costs and the total increase cannot be more than 3% of the current rent.  

Evidence of these costs must be provided, and a rent officer has to review this evidence and the amounts before an order can be made. It is possible to appeal this decision, but it must be made within 14 days of the order. If your landlord tries to increase the rent on this basis before the legislation expires in March 2023, we’d encourage you to contact the Advice Centre for further information & support with challenging this. 

I currently live in Student Halls, can my landlord increase the rent? 

As student hall contracts cover the full set period of a tenancy, these include the full terms and conditions including the rent due for the entire year. This contractual agreement would not usually allow for a change in the amount due for rent, and therefore it is unlikely that a Student Hall would try to change the terms.  

If you were to receive a notice of increased rent, then please contact the Advice Centre for advice on challenging this. 

 

The Winter Eviction ban: 

Can landlords still evict tenants? 

Yes, however this is only under certain grounds.  

If you are living in a Private Residential Tenancy (PRT) there are a range of grounds can still be used during the Winter Eviction Ban. They include: the landlord is selling the property, the landlord is going to move into the property, there are substantial rent arrears, or the tenant has been involved in criminal behaviour. The full grounds are listed on page 25 of the Act 

If you have a different type of private tenancy, there are further similar grounds applicable to those tenancies. 

If you do receive an eviction notice, please contact the Advice Centre as soon as possible. 

I currently live in Student Halls, what are the grounds I could be evicted under? 

During this eviction ban, tenants living in Student Halls (both those run by universities and private providers) can only be evicted under the following two grounds: criminal behaviour and/or anti-social behaviour. 

I have received an eviction notice after 6th September 2022, can I challenge this? 

Yes, it may still be possible to challenge the eviction order.  
 
All applications for eviction must still be made to the Housing and Property Chamber, who will consider whether it is reasonable to issue an eviction order, even if the ground is proven.  They also have a formal appeal process.  

If you are facing eviction, please get in touch with the Advice Centre for further support.