Even though the rent and eviction freeze came to an end on the 1st April 2023, there are still measures in place to protect tenants from astronomical increases to their monthly bills.
Private Rent Cap
For those privately renting, there is a cap on increases made between now and the end of September.
Landlords can only increase rent by 3%. They can request a rise of up to 6%, but must be able to prove that their expenses on the property have risen. This will only happen in limited circumstances.
If Rent Service Scotland have approved a higher increase in rent, tenants can appeal the decision by applying to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland.
Landlords must give at least three month’s notice on any rent increases.
However, prices can rise past the 3% threshold only if tenants agree to it. There have been cases of tenants agreeing to a large pay rise under the agreement that they will not face eviction or a much larger rent increase once the law is relaxed.
The rent cap attempts to protect low-income households during the cost-of-living crisis and ensures that they are paying fair and appropriate prices for their homes.
For those in student accommodation, landlords can increase rent above the rent cap, but they must follow the process as set out in the contract.
Rent Market in Scotland
In the renter’s market, competition is unmistakably fierce at the moment.
The average time between advertisement and signing of the tenancy agreement has fallen from 35 days to 16 days in the last two years.
For one and two-bedroom flats, 40% of tenancy agreements are signed within the week.
Rent Arrears in Scotland
For those that fall into rent arrears, some may be eligible to apply for the Tenant Grant Fund if they are facing eviction.
The Tenant Grant Fund is paid directly to the landlord to help the tenant cover any rent arrears, and does not need to be paid back by the tenant.
To apply for the Tenant Grant Fund, speak to your to your local council.
The Eviction Freeze has been extended until the 30th September and protects private tenants from eviction amid the cost-of-living crisis.
The landlord can still serve tenants with an eviction notice or get an eviction order from a court or tribunal.
However, they cannot enforce the eviction until the end of September unless the ban does not apply to you.
If the ban does not apply to you, you may still be evicted.
The ban does not apply to you if you: –
- Are being evicted due to anti-social or criminal activity.
- Have six months of rent arrears for private tenants.
- Have £2,250 worth of rent arrears and renting from the council or housing association.
- Are living in a property that needs to be demolished or renovated.
If being evicted for falling behind in rent, the landlord must attempt to help you before they are able to evict you. They must be able to prove this at either a tribunal or in court.
For unlawful eviction, tenants may potentially be awarded damages up to the value of 36 month’s rent.
A large spike in evictions is expected once the ban is lifted towards the end of the year.
For those struggling with debt during this time, help is available.
It may be worth opening an account with another bank which would allow you to safely pay your rent from your new account and avoid money from being withdrawn to cover non-priority debts such as credit cards.
Some bills that you receive are regarded as priority debts because the consequences of not paying those priority debts are greater than the consequences of not paying your other non-priority debts such as credit cards.
For example, if you don’t pay your mortgage, your home could be repossessed. If you don’t pay your rent, you could be evicted. Therefore, it is always advisable to regard your rent as a priority bill.
Formal Debt Solutions
A formal debt solution may be the best option for those with unsecured debts, such as credit cards, alongside rent arrears.
We offer tailored debt advice on solutions that are designed to consolidate all your unsecured debts into one, affordable monthly payment.
Follow our Trust Deed Scotland® Wizard Tool to see if you are eligible.