Rent Service Scotland (RSS), part of the Scottish Government, has five main functions:
1. Setting Local Housing Allowance by gathering market evidence
If you're a private tenant, and your property was let after 7 April 2008, Local Housing Allowance (LHA) can help towards the cost of your rent. The rate of the allowance depends on the number of rooms you need and the area you live in. This ensures that those who live in similar circumstances in the same area receive a consistent amount of support towards their housing costs. LHA may not apply in all circumstances.
To ensure the LHA reflects the market RSS encourages landlords, letting agents and so on to provide details of the rents they have achieved for properties. This important information is recorded and stored securely in the RSS market evidence database.
Market evidence is updated rent information that Rent Service Scotland is required to gather from letting agents, landlords and tenants. This information ensures that Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is based on the rents currently being paid in the private rented sector. It is also used to provide data to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and for the publication of the Private Sector Rent Statistics in Scotland.
If you can help please complete the market evidence form and return it to Rent Service Scotland. If you prefer to use your own form or provide the information in another way please do so. The collection, storage, use and disposal of lettings information is strictly controlled to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998.
2. Providing valuations to local authorities for Private Rented Sector tenants
This will be for tenants who have been receiving housing benefit before 7 April 2008. Housing benefit helps people on low incomes living in the private rented sector before 7 April 2008 pay their rent. It is paid by local councils on behalf of the UK Government. To apply for housing benefit, or get more information, contact your local authority's housing benefit service.
3. Providing valuations for tenants and landlords for fair rent registrations
A fair rent can apply to accommodation in the private rented sector which was let before 2 January 1989 without a resident landlord. A rent officer will set a rent level based on a range of information about the property. Fair rents are registered by a rent officer at the request of a landlord or tenant and should be fair to both.
4. Adjudicating on rent increases for tenants with a private residential tenancy
The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 introduced a new type of tenancy called a 'Private Residential Tenancy' (PRT). Its purpose is to improve security, stability and predictability for tenants and provide safeguards for landlords, lenders and investors. The PRT is open-ended and will last until a tenant wishes to leave or a landlord uses one or more of the 18 grounds for eviction.
Under a PRT, a landlord can increase the rent no more than once a year and must give a tenant at least three months' notice of any increase.
If a tenant thinks a proposed rent increase is unreasonable, they can apply to a rent officer at Rent Service Scotland for a rent adjudication. The rent officer will set the rent level based on a range of information about the property and has the ability to increase the rent if they decide it should be higher, as well as decreasing it if they think it's too high.
Rent adjudication is not available if the let property is in a designated Rent Pressure Zone.
5. Determining an additional amount of rent to reflect any improvements made by a landlord to a let property which is located in a Rent Pressure Zone
From 1 December 2017, local authorities can apply to Scottish Ministers to designate an area as a Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ) if the authority can demonstrate that rents in that area are rising too much, causing undue hardship to tenants and having a detrimental effect on the authority's broader housing services.
If Scottish Ministers designate an area as an RPZ, there will be a cap on how much rents for tenants with a PRT in that area can increase each year. A cap can last for up to 5 years and will be at least the consumer price index + 1%. A cap will only apply to rent increases for existing tenants, it will not affect initial rents, which will remain market-led.
The cap set by Ministers also enables landlords to include an amount of rent to reflect any improvements made to the let property. A landlord can only do this by applying to a Rent Officer for a decision on how much additional rent they can add. Scottish Ministers have produced guidance under section 43(4)(a) of the Private Tenancies (Scotland) Act 2016 which a rent officer must follow when deciding the amount a landlord can include in the rent cap to reflect their improvements – this is also a useful guide for landlords.
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Telephone: 0300 244 7000