- In the current situation, many of you will be concerned about your rights as a tenant in relation to contracts/lease agreements, cancellation policies, rent arrears, and eviction, the information below should help you.
- Please also see our page 'COVID-19 Accommodation Concerns', for further useful information on PBSA responses, quarantining/self-isolating, and some useful letter templates.
- If you are having problems paying your rent, regardless of your type of accommodation, it is always a good idea to contact your landlord/agent/provider to discuss with them your difficulties and see what advice and support they can offer you. If you are in purpose-built student accommodation (that is not run by the University) you should still contact your provider to discuss your circumstances and options but also check their websites for any updates on changes and advice.
- If you need further advice please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Shelter Scotland Advice - Important Information & Key Details
Due to Covid-19/Coronavirus, a new piece of emergency legislation has been enacted by the Scotland Government which grants students living in PBSAs permission to terminate tenancies, for reasons related to coronavirus, earlier than the lease’s stated end date.
PBSAs - Purpose Built Student Accommodation Providers - are private student halls of residence, such as: Unite, U Student, Student Roost, Fresh Student Living, etc...
* Coronavirus (Scotland) (No2) Act 2020 - accommodation provisions now extended to 31st March 2022.
If you live in purpose-built student accommodation, and you want to end your tenancy because of the coronavirus outbreak, the amount of notice you need to give your landlord depends on when you moved in:
The Legislation - Temporary
The Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020 is a temporary piece of legislation. It is currently set to be in place until 31st March 2022. Therefore, the last date on which you can submit notice to terminate your lease is 3 March 2022, after which it is expected that all relevant legislation will revert to standard.
The original end date (30th September 2020) was extended to 31st March 2021 and then further extended to 30th September 2021 and has now again been extended to 31st March 2022. Should it be required, Scottish Ministers have the power to further extend the temporary period for which these changes are in place. Therefore, a further extension by the Scottish Government cannot be ruled out.
Terminating a Tenancy - Reasons
As stated in the legislation, you may, for a reason related to coronavirus, bring to an end a student residential tenancy. Therefore, the reason stated in your notice should be for reasons related to coronavirus.
The Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020 does not define, or give examples of, reasons relating to coronavirus but these could include financial hardship caused by the epidemic, the cancellation of in person teaching, or because students have returned to their family home in accordance with government guidance on physical distancing.
The Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020 does not require students who wish to terminate their agreements to confirm what their reason relating to coronavirus is, nor does it require students to provide evidence of that reason. It is expected that accommodation providers do not refuse to accept a notice due to a lack of reasons being given or because they disagree with the reasons being provided.
Terminating a Tenancy - Notice/ Notice Period
Notice should be given in writing (this includes electronic communication where both parties agree to this) to your accommodation provider stating the day on which the tenancy will end (i.e. after the last day the minimum notice period applies). Students should check their tenancy agreement to see what has been agreed about how to serve notice/communicate with landlords.
Students who entered into a student residential tenancy agreement and had occupied the property before 27th May 2020 can give seven days notice.
Students who have entered into a student residential tenancy agreement on or after 27th May 2020, or have not yet occupied the property, can give 28 days notice while the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020 is in force.
Sources of up-to-date information
Shelter Scotland - has been offering hosing advice since 1968 and they can provide housing advice for everyone. They have a lot of information on their website regarding coronavirus (COVID-19) housing advice and also advice for student renters. Students can make contact for advice via the Shelter Scotland National Helpline on 0808 800 4444
Student Information Scotland – Covid Support - https://www.studentinformation.gov.scot/coronavirus - Student Information Scotland has guidance which contains advice for students who are unsure about how coronavirus is affecting student life. The guidance is there to ensure that students in student accommodation, can safely leave their accommodation, return to accommodation to collect belongings, and know how recent legislation affects them.
Citizens Advice Scotland - Citizens Advice Scotland is part of Scotland’s largest independent advice network. The advice provided by Citizens Advice Scotland is free, independent, confidential, impartial, and available to everyone.
General Housing Advice
For general tips and advice when renting privately and what to look out for in a lease agreement please see our Accommodation Guide.
Safety Deposit Schemes: If you pay a deposit your landlord must put this in a deposit protection scheme for the duration of your tenancy. Your landlord must register this within 30 days of you paying your deposit. This means that when you do come to move out, you can appeal to the deposit scheme if you feel that your landlord has made any unfair deductions from your deposit.
Illegal Fees: Remember; It is illegal for Landlords and Letting Agencies to take any non-returnable fees for you prior to renting, such as payment for credit checks, 'administration fees' or fees to secure the property - unless this is later to form part of your deposit. More information on this can be found at: http://www.reclaimyourfees.com/
Repair & Maintenance: Landlords have an obligation to keep a property safe and in a good state of repair. Vermin, roof leaks and damp are not acceptable, and you should inform your landlord and ask them to deal with it. If vermin make an appearance after you move in, your landlord can hold you to account for it and may claim that you have left food around and have not kept the property clean.
Allowing Access: You have the right to live in the property undisturbed. If your landlord requires access to the property, they must give you 24 hours written notice - whether it is to do repairs or to show prospective tenants around the property. They absolutely cannot let themselves in without notice unless there is an emergency such as burst pipes or a gas leak. On the other hand, as a tenant, you are expected to provide reasonable access when requested.
Eviction: If a landlord wishes to evict you, they must first obtain an eviction order from the court. After this, it is the court that decides whether there are grounds for eviction. If your landlord evicts by any other means, it is illegal. please see Shelter Scotland Advice Pages.
Lease Agreements: When you move into the property, ensure that you have a copy of the written agreement or lease. If your landlord does not provide you with a written lease, then your lease is an unwritten one and you still have rights and obligations with regards to the property along with anything you have agreed verbally with your landlord.
For more information on your rights while renting visit Shelter Scotland Advice Pages.