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Report finds that landlords abuse holiday let contracts to evade tenants’ rights

Thursday 13 June 2019

According to a new report, landlords and agents in Scotland are exploiting Airbnb-style holiday let contracts to avoid long-term tenancies and evade their responsibilities to tenants.

The report from Living Rent highlights three cases which said housing legislation and tenants’ rights were being undermined by the loophole.

The Scottish tenants’ union identified the case of an Edinburgh landlord who was struck-off from the landlord register but had since taken advantage of the fact holiday let landlords don’t need to be registered to continue letting properties.

Holiday let leases give tenants almost none of the protections they would be guaranteed under Short-Assured Tenancies or Scottish Private Residential Tenancies, the union pointed out but tenants’ rights apply if it can be shown that the property is being used as a home, rather than for short term holiday purposes.

David Alexander, joint managing director of Apropos by DJ Alexander, said: “Many landlords and agents see holiday lets as a means of letting properties whilst ignoring the recent legislative changes in Scotland on the rights of the tenant. However, this is incorrect as tenants’ rights apply if it can be shown that the property is being used as a home, rather than for short term holiday purposes. Even if no contract is signed, the tenancy automatically defaults to a Private Residential Tenancy Agreement if both parties have knowingly entered into a long term, residential arrangement.

“The only area of ambiguity comes in the definition of what is a holiday let and whether the tenant and landlord, at the time of letting, believes this will be the tenants’ home or simply a temporary place to live for a limited period.”

Living Rent say they have been approached by an increasing number of tenants who have been put on these kinds of contracts, and that the Scottish Government and local authorities are turning a blind eye to these abuses.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a consultation into holiday lets, but Living Rent said the Scottish Government could go a long way towards closing the loophole without new legislation and are urging action prior to the end of the consultation.

Megan Bishop, from Living Rent and co-author of the report, said: “It’s abysmal how tenants are being treated. We’ve had cases from tenants living in properties in such extreme disrepair it’s threatening their health and safety.

“We welcome the Scottish Government’s consultation on holiday lets, but if they are serious about protecting tenants, they need take action now close this loophole and drastically step up regulation and ensure tenants are safe.”

What Propertymark is doing

ARLA Propertymark will be responding to the Scottish Governments Short-term Lets consultation next month. If members would like their thoughts on the impact of short-lets in Scotland to be considered in our response then please email Communications@propertymark.co.uk.

Propertymark resources

ARLA Propertymark members can take advantage of the various resources available which provide key information on legislative changes and guidance on a range of topics in order to help agents with their day-to-day jobs. These include:

  • GDPR bitesize guides
  • Tenant Fees Toolkit
  • Fact sheets
  • Fee templates
  • AST agreements

Members area

Propertymark also provides information in guides for agents to distribute to their customers, which can be uploaded onto a website or simply handed out as a hardcopy. These break down important topics and help arm customers with the information they need. Digital copies can be downloaded from the online shop.

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