private residential tenancy

Private Residential Tenancies Explained

Private Residential Tenancy (PRT) agreements arrived on 1 December 2017 and replaced the previous assured and short assured tenancy agreements for all new tenancies in Scotland. They come with a number of rights and obligations between you and your landlord, including any optional clauses that may have been added by your landlord. This guide explains what a PRT is, how and when you should see a copy of it and what you can expect to find in the agreement.

What is a Private Residential Tenancy?

Essentially, they are an agreement between a tenant and a landlord for living in a rented property. They exist to protect the tenant and the landlord and clearly set out the terms for renting that property.

One of the key differences between PRT’s and its predecessors is that they are open-ended. This gives tenants more protection and minimises disruption in their day-to-day lives, so that they can feel secure in their home without the worry of being evicted at short notice.

In Scotland, any new tenancy since 1 December 2017 will be a Private Residential Tenancy if:

  • It is a separate dwelling (this includes shared houses, where the kitchen and bathroom are shared for example)
  • It is a main home
  • The tenancy isn’t an excluded tenancy

Does the PRT need to be a written agreement?

Yes, landlords must provide a written copy of the PRT, and it must include all the terms in the tenancy. Anything agreed verbally, must be added to the written agreement.

The Scottish Government has also produced supporting documents to help tenants better understand their tenancy agreement:

Landlords have to provide a copy of one of these documents along with the PRT agreement.

When do they need to be given to the tenant?

A written copy of the PRT and one of the supporting documents must be given to the tenant before the end of the day on which the tenancy starts.

If you are already living in the property under a different type of agreement and it is being changed to a PRT, your landlord must provide a written copy along with one of the above supporting documents within 28 days of the change.

If your landlord changes any of the terms in your existing PRT they must provide a written document explaining any updated terms of your tenancy within 28 days of the change.

What terms does the PRT need to describe?

All PRT agreements are legally required to include a set of core rights and obligations, also known as ‘mandatory clauses’. These appear at the start of the written agreement and are followed by any optional terms that have been added by the landlord, these are called ‘discretionary clauses’.

When combined, your PRT should comprehensively outline all the terms of your tenancy.

Mandatory clauses

  • Details of the property – including the address, what facilities are included, any parts of the property that are shared, whether furniture is included and if the property is a HMO.
  • The date your tenancy starts
  • Occupation and use of property – agreeing to use the property as your home and an opportunity to let the landlord know in writing if you plan to use it for business use.
  • Rent – including the amount, when and how it is to be paid and whether the rent covers any services (e.g. electricity).
  • Rent increases – outlining when it can go up and the process that needs to be followed for any increases. If you are unhappy with a rent increase, you can find information on how to challenge it in our renters rights guide.
  • Deposit - your deposit amount, the scheme it is protected by and the circumstances for when a deposit can be withheld.
  • Subletting – whether it is allowed or not. Typically, only those named in the PRT agreement will have permission to live in the property.
  • Notification about other residents – you will need to notify the landlord of any person over the age of sixteen that lives in the property as their main home – for example, if a dependant who was fifteen at the start of the tenancy turns sixteen, the landlord will need to be notified in writing.
  • Insurance – this explains what is covered by the landlord’s insurance and what insurance is needed by the tenant for their own belongings.
  • Absences - what you need to do if you are away from the property for more than two weeks.
  • Reasonable care – what your responsibilities are to maintain the condition of the property.
  • The Repairing Standard and landlord’s responsibilities - The Repairing Standard outlines a set of conditions that the landlord must abide by to ensure that the property is kept in good repair, including gas and electrical safety, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. This section will also set out the landlord’s other responsibilities in maintaining the structure and exterior of the property.
  • Legionella - your landlord has a number of obligations to prevent the risk of legionella.
  • Access for repairs, inspections, and valuations - a clause that states that the tenant must let the landlord have access for ‘authorised purposes’, e.g. carrying out work on the property.
  • Respect for others – the tenants must agree not to be involved in any antisocial behaviour to other people in the property, neighbours or visitors.
  • Equality requirements - the landlord cannot discriminate because of a person’s disability, sex, or gender reassignment.
  • Data protection
  • Ending the tenancy agreement – this clause outlines what the tenant needs to do to end the tenancy agreement. It also explains the reasons why a landlord can legally end a tenancy and the process in which they need to take.

Discretionary clauses

Discretionary clauses are optional clauses that your landlord can add to the tenancy agreement alongside the mandatory clauses. The following examples might not necessarily appear in every PRT agreement, but they are relatively common. You may also find in your PRT agreement some discretionary clauses not listed below.

  • Smoking – whether you can smoke in the property or not. If your agreement says you can’t smoke, you will need written permission from your landlord before you can.
  • Pets – some agreements will ban pets in the property, but you may be able to gain permission if you agree to an additional deposit. Any deposit in Scotland is capped at a maximum of two months’ rent, this includes any additional deposits. There is more info on renting with pets in our guide.
  • Alterations – this includes alterations to the property, fixtures and fittings and any decorating. It is up to the landlord whether they give you permission for this.
  • Garden and shared areas – normally the tenant must maintain any private garden, but the landlord also might pay for garden maintenance and charge this cost as a service included in the monthly rent.

Unfair tenancies

Tenancy agreements must be written clearly and be easy to understand and should never contain any terms which could be ‘unfair’.

If you feel that your tenancy agreement has any terms that are unfair, or even illegal, you have the right to complain. You can also contact your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau for further advice.

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