Final wave of research launches to shine light on impact of Scottish tenancy reforms

Indigo House, funded by the Nationwide Foundation, today launches the final phase of research to unveil how tenancy reform has impacted the experiences of tenants and landlords in Scotland’s private rental market.

The research will also be launched at the conference of the Scottish Association of Landlords taking place on Wednesday 8th November in Edinburgh.

This research forms part of the five-year RentBetter study, which seeks to understand whether and how private renting reforms introduced in Scotland since 2017 are having the desired impact on renters by increasing security of tenure, empowering tenants, protecting against excessive rent increases, and improving renters’ overall experience.

Through two waves of research to date in the past four years, RentBetter has built a clear evidence base of the differences between renters’ experiences living in the private rented sector before and after the 2017 regulations were implemented. It also provides evidence on how landlords, local authorities, and support and advice agencies view the changes. This third and final wave of research seeks to uncover the impact of the tenancy changes, what is yet to be achieved, and how this might be done. This final wave will also examine the impact of rent controls introduced through the Cost of Living legislation in 2022.

With renting reform remaining firmly on Scottish Government’s agenda, this final research will be of key interest to policymakers.




Tenancy reform in Scotland

The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 was passed in 2016 in Scotland and introduced the Private Residential Tenancy (PRT) for new private lets from 1 December 2017. A key part of the rationale behind the new tenancy regime was to better balance the power relations between landlords and tenants in Scotland, so that tenants can assert their rights, challenge rent rises, and ask for repairs without fear of a rent rise or eviction. The PRT created open-ended tenancies with no fixed term, whereby renters have the flexibility to leave with 28 days’ notice. Landlords must specify a prescribed possession ground to evict and give 84 days’ notice for tenants who have lived in the property for six months. Rent can only be increased once every 12 months with three months’ notice, and tenants are able to challenge what they consider an unfair rent increase to a rent officer.

About the Rent Better Research

RentBetter is a research programme established by Indigo House and supported by the Nationwide Foundation. The purpose of the RentBetter programme is to evaluate changes in the Scottish private Rented Sector regime; in particular, the impact of the PRT introduced in 2017. The Nationwide Foundation funded Indigo House in 2019 to undertake research to learn from the experiences of households living in, and landlords providing, private rental properties in Scotland. The aim is to help identify any further changes that may be needed in Scotland and to share lessons learned for the benefit of private tenants and landlords across the UK. The Nationwide Foundation wants to understand the impact of the PRT on security of tenure, access to justice, affordability, and landlord and tenant conduct.


Key findings from waves 2 and 3 of the RentBetter research:

  • Local authorities need greater funding to enforce renters’ rights if low-income renters in particular are to be able to benefit from the tenancy reform.
  • Renters on low incomes are much less satisfied than the private renting population at large. Many struggle financially and live in poor-quality homes, lacking choice and market power.
  • Accessing decent, affordable accommodation that meets low-income households’ needs is challenging. When these households find somewhere suitable, they’re concerned about losing it, making them less likely to challenge landlords about substandard conditions.
  • Tenants are more satisfied when they have a direct relationship with their landlords.
  • Many renters are dissatisfied with the condition of their homes and have low levels of awareness about rights and expected standards.
  • Housing stock in Scotland’s private rented sector appears to be reducing or at least remaining static, contributing to a significant imbalance between supply and demand.
  • The types of landlords leaving the market are diverse, with portfolios of various sizes, and a range of reasons for exiting.


Joshua Davies, Programme Manager for Transforming the Private Rented Sector, The Nationwide Foundation

Anna Evans, Director Indigo House