What now for residential tenants? The impact of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill
We have already written about the anticipated action and proposals by the Scottish Government which would impact evictions in the social and privately rented sectors. The proposals are now on the brink of becoming law. In this blog we look in more detail at the new statutory provisions contained in the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill. The Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 1 April, with it expected to come into force on 6 or 7 April. The legislation is temporary, expiring on 30 September 2020, unless that period is extended by subsequent regulations.
The Bill provides tenants in the private and social rented sectors with greater protection from eviction, at a time when an increased number face financial difficulties and risk defaulting on obligations to their landlords. As well as protecting the individual, these provisions are intended to reduce the movement of tenants whilst social distancing is required.
Private rented sector
For such time as the new legislation remains in force, there will be no mandatory grounds for eviction. The mandatory grounds contained in Schedule 3 of the Private Housing (Tenancies) Scotland Act 2016, for example continuous rent arrears for 3 or more months, have been made discretionary. A tenant may only be evicted if the First-tier Tribunal, which considers applications for eviction submitted by landlords, is satisfied that it is reasonable to make an eviction order. The position is the same in the case of applications to recover possession on the termination of Short Assured Tenancies governed by the Housing (Scotland) Act 1988.
In addition, the period of notice that a landlord must give a tenant when issuing a Notice to Leave under the 2016 Act has been extended. The length of notice required depends on the grounds of repossession being used by the landlord. It varies from 28 days, if the tenant is not occupying the property, to 6 months (in the case of rent arrears or another breach of the tenancy agreement, if the property is to be sold or refurbished, amongst other grounds). In other cases, 3 months’ notice is required, for example if the landlord or their family intends to live in the property, or the tenant has engaged in anti-social behaviour.
In the case of Short Assured Tenancies, the notice period for recovery of possession has been extended to 6 months.
Social Rented Sector
For Scottish Secure Tenancies such as those granted by local authorities or housing associations, the periods of notice that must be given to tenants have also been extended. Again, the period required will depend on the grounds for eviction.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like further advice on how any of these provisions will affect you.
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