Across the UK, the last few years has seen a range of new legislative measures aimed at boosting the rights of tenants in the growing private rental sector. However, it is only when put to the test in the courts that some of them can be shown to have serious legal force.
The good news for Scottish tenants is that one law passed by Holyrood clearly does have some serious weight.
Writing for Scottish Legal, dispute resolution and litigation lawyer Paul Harper said a recent case has shown the wrongful termination element of the Private Housing (Tenancies) Scotland Act 2016 “has teeth”.
The case in question was that of Rodriguez-Ortega v Dominguez-Lopez, where the landlord’s reason for eviction - that there was an intention to let the property again within three months of the end of the tenancy - was given dishonestly.
Mr Rodriguez-Ortega, the tenant, became suspicious as the stated reason given by his landlord was that he intended to move with his wife and young baby into the property. This was because the flat was a studio and the landlord had been living in a three-bedroom house.
In successfully proving that the landlord had deliberately misled him, the tenant received compensation worth three times his monthly rent. The law allows the court the power to award up to six months’ worth.
The fact that this protection exists and has now been proven effective in practice will give tenants all the more reason to contact letting agents in Scotland with confidence.
At the same time, those looking for property to rent will be reassured by the fact this is the first and only time the law has been used, indicating that dishonest activities of this kind are very rare.
The 2016 Act was described at the time by the Scottish government as providing a number of extra protections for tenants, including banning landlords from evicting people on the grounds that they had lived in a property for a set length of time and protection against rents being increased more than once a year.