Students says landlords tried to evict them to cash in on Openon July 14, 2022 at 5:34 am

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Students in St Andrews say landlords have tried to push them out of their rooms.

Golf - The 150th Open Championship - St Andrews, Scotland, BritainImage source, Reuters

Students in St Andrews say landlords have tried to push them out of their rooms to make “a whole lot of money” out of visitors to The Open.

The historic golf championship could see about 300,000 people visit the town which normally has a population of 19,000.

As a result, accommodation in the area is currently fetching up to £1,000 a night.

Legal experts said long-term renters could not be forced out.

The Scottish government said tenants should seek advice and stand their ground.

Wilson Jones

The 150th Open is being staged in St Andrews from July 14 to 17, with tourist numbers expected to boom before, during and after the event.

Wilson Jones is a student who confronted his letting agency over a clause in his tenancy agreement.

He told BBC Scotland’s The Nine that his landlord had tried to evict him during The Open period.

“The contract that my flatmate and I signed said we were to vacate this place from the 9th to the 19th July,” Wilson said.

“Over the course of the last seven months we were reaching out to our letting agency about how exactly that was supposed to work. The only response we really got was that we should just leave our things in the house and strip the bed.

“My landlord didn’t care where I went, and they were going to make a whole lot of money out of it, presumably. It was ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous.”

Wilson’s landlord told us they planned to stay in the property themselves, and that they followed the guidance of their property agents.

But Barry Will, from the tenants’ union Living Rent, claims that similar things have been happening across St Andrews, and that clauses in the leases don’t follow the correct practice of how a tenant should be evicted.

“We’re seeing landlords charge extortionate rent increases over the period of The Open,” Mr Will said.

“We’re seeing landlords attempting to evict tenants across town. Really, what we’re seeing is tenants across St Andrews being let down because of a golf tournament coming to town.

“The Open means a lot to St Andrews, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of fracturing our community, and that’s what we’re trying to fight against.”


Student Mia, who doesn’t want to use her real name for fear of repercussions when trying to find a flat next year, said her rent was due to increase by £4,500 during the month of The Open.

“We signed the lease last summer after quite a struggle trying to find properties. It was the only one we were able to get, so we knew, either we take this, or we don’t have a house.

“At the time we saw in the lease where it said that if we retained it for the month of July, the rent would go up from £2,500 overall to £7,000 overall.

“We thought, we can’t stay there for July, we can’t afford to pay that much money. We just feel a bit powerless as tenants, because the landlords have the resources, the expertise, the lawyers, and we wouldn’t know what to do.”

The Scottish government brought in new laws five years ago to give more security to tenants.

Legal expert Brian Gilmour, from Indigo Square Property, said that any clause requiring tenants to move out for a week, or which increases the rent of a property by unreasonable amounts, isn’t enforceable under the new rules.

“If the landlord went to enforce that clause of asking the tenant to move out, and the tenant said, ‘I’m not moving out’, the tenant would be in the right,” Mr Gilmour said.

“At the end of the day, this is not a holiday let where you sign a long-term lease, this is somebody’s home.

“What you’ve got is someone dictating, you need to get out of your home for somebody else to make money out of your home.”

Barry Will

The Scottish government said there were clear laws and contractual terms that landlords must follow in order to rent properties in Scotland, and that includes in circumstances in which leases are terminated.

Living Rent advises tenants to seek independent advice, for example via the Citizens Advice Bureau , Shelter Scotland, or student advice services.

Barry Will said: “What we really need now is proper action with the private house market, which almost a million people depend on, to ensure people can continue to live in their homes with dignity and with security.”

Mia’s letting agency denies that clauses within the leases they provide are unlawful, and that they act on behalf of their landlords and take their instructions.

But Mia says it seems absurd that it would be so expensive.

“They know we’re obviously not going to pay that, so they just want to kick us out. It just seems greedy.”

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