Research: Evaluating changes to rental agreements in Scotland

Summary

On 1st December 2017, a new type of private rental tenancy came into law in Scotland. Fixed terms are no longer in use and all eligible contracts are now indefinite, in one of the biggest changes to housing policy in a UK country for a generation. It is a phased implementation, with renters in Scotland gradually moving over to the new terms. Renters adopt the new tenancy when they move into a new home after 1st December 2017, or if a contract renewal is agreed after this date. The numbers for the contract renewal element are unknown, but the Scottish household survey suggests that about 35% of private renters moved into a new private rented home in a year. This means that at the time of publication we would expect close to half of all privately renting households in Scotland to be on the new terms.

Whilst we were compiling this report, the Westminster Government announced that they proposed to end the use of Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions in England (and a similar announcement was made by the Welsh Assembly), effectively introducing similar indefinite term tenancies to those countries. We believe that the evidence and lessons learnt from Scotland are critical to understanding the best way forward for tenancy law in England. Shelter have long been proponents of longer or permanent tenancies in England, and such a policy being rolled out in a neighbouring country, with a similar social, economic and housing history presents us with a unique opportunity to assess what such a change would mean for England.