Edinburgh Realty was sending letters to students telling them to decide whether they would re-sign their flats in May. They were forced to backtrack after admitting that their demands violated the Residential Tenancies Act.
In the letter sent to tenants, Edinburgh Property Management asked tenants to decide if they would be re-signing their property for next year by 5pm on May 2. If tenants did not get in touch with Edinburgh by this deadline, Edinburgh would begin to advertise their property for rent the following year. However, these demands were later found to be a breach of the Residential Tenancies Act. Under changes which came into force in February last year, tenants have until 28 days before the end of their tenancy to decide if they wish to renew a fixed-term agreement. If they don’t decide by this date, tenants must be moved onto a “periodic tenancy” (with no set end date). In other words, under the new regulations, landlords cannot make tenants leave at the end of their fixed-term tenancy unless the tenants agree, or for specific reasons (e.g. if the property is being renovated, sold or its tenants are displaying “anti-social behaviour” i.e. being dicks).
According to John Harbrook, Group Manager in charge of Property Management at Edinburgh, the letter sent out to tenants was not consistent with tenants’ rights under Section 60a of the Residential Tenancies Act, and an amendment was sent out to tenants on April 28. This was two days after R1News questioned Edinburgh on the legality of the letter, and four days before Edinburgh was expecting responses from tenants.
Harbrook confirmed to R1News that these flats would not be advertised as available for 2023 until Edinburgh had confirmed whether tenants would be staying for 2023, or leaving at the end of their fixed term agreement. According to Harbrook, Edinburgh wanted students to be able to secure accommodation for 2023 as early as possible, so they can concentrate on their studies for the rest of the year. Advertising for Edinburgh’s 2023 student flats will begin on June 7, the day before Semester One exams begin.
OUSA Residential Representative Patrice Le Sueur told R1News that the letter was sent out to tenants too early, and that it would be nice if this letter was sent out in Semester 2 instead. Le Sueur said that pushing these flat listings out to Semester 2 could be beneficial for both tenants and property management companies. He also said that it is important that property management companies understand the new law, adding that he didn’t think Edinburgh knew the letter to be illegal when they sent it out in the first place.