On 1st December 2017 a new Private Rented Tenancy (PRT) was launched in Scotland. The PRT was brought into force by the Scottish Government in response to the outdated Short Assured Tenancy (SAT) which landlords and letting agents have been using for years and was no longer seen as fit for purpose. The PRT was put in place to give greater security of tenure while also giving landlords greater flexibility if their circumstances changed or tenants breached their tenancy.

What are the main factors affecting Student lets?

As is always the way with legislation there are winners and losers and a lot of the initial response to the PRT was that landlords with student properties have lost out for two reasons;

1. There is no longer a fixed term under the PRT. Therefore students could essentially vacate at any point in the year (giving 28 days note)and specifically over the winter months when students do not traditionally make a move

2. Under a PRT you can no longer ask a tenant to leave ‘just because’. Therefore a landlord will not be able to request tenants vacate in the summer to allow them to free up the property for relet to new students from the summer (or to allow a festival let)

How we’re working with the PRT to increase certainty for landlords and tenants

As we always do between January and March each year we’re currently in the middle of advertising our student properties for let for the following academic year. At the moment we’re showing flats to students looking to sign up for the 2018-2019 academic year once the current tenants (still on SATS signed last summer before the legislation changed) move out. These new tenancies will start any time between June and September 2018 depending on when the current SAT expires.

When 2018-19 students sign their PRTs with us, we are not allowed to coerce them into agreeing to leave at a date that suits us for summer 2019. In our opinion students (who are not staying on) will be looking at ending their tenancy in May/June 2019 when their academic year ends (delighted that they won’t have to pay for rent over the summer months when they’ll likely be away from Edinburgh gaining valuable work experience while living with their parents or galivanting around South East Asia ‘finding themselves’!). Umega will as always be proactive and to try and mirror the existing system as best we can.  We plan to send out a helpful communication to tenants in January 2019 simply asking them what their plans are for the next academic and a notice of what the new rent will be. It is our belief that from this we will gather in the tenants notice to vacate early which will offer us enough time to plan for the summer and keep voids to a minimum.  

We expect this pattern to continue each year with our student tenancies running from June each year until the following June.

Of course, tenants could fall-out with each other over Christmas and serve 28 days notice to quit in January however most students do not want the disruption of having to move flat half way through the academic year when they have enough on their plate at Uni. Under the PRT there will be a number of students looking for flats outwith the traditional summer months which we hope will fill any student properties which become vacant over the winter months to tide landlords over until the summer chaos comes round again.

Only time will tell how the PRT will affect student lettings in Edinburgh but we’ll monitor this closely and learn fast; doing everything we can to minimise voids for our landlords while ensuring our tenants have a peaceful happy stay in our rental properties Edinburgh!