The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 comes into force on 1st December 2017. It will introduce the new Private Residential Tenancy which will replace Assured and Short Assured Tenancies in Scotland from the effective date. Existing Assured and Short Assured tenancies will continue unaffected.
The new Private Residential Tenancy (PRT) offers significant security of tenure to tenants. The no-fault eviction basis available under the Short Assured Tenancy regime will not apply. PRTs will not have an end date and cannot be terminated at the landlord’s instigation unless there is a ground for eviction. In effect, PRTs will be open-ended whereas tenants will be entitled to terminate the tenancy by giving 28 days notice to the landlord, or any other notice period specified in the tenancy agreement.
In order to instigate recovery of the property, the landlord must serve on the tenant a prescribed notice called a “Notice to Leave” specifying one or more of the 18 grounds set out in the Act and the date on which the landlord expects to be able to apply to the Tribunal for an eviction order.
Tenants must be given a minimum period of notice before the eviction action can commence. The period is 28 days if the tenant has lived at the property for less than 6 months or if the tenant conduct grounds apply. In all other cases, the notice period is 84 days.
If the Tenant fails to vacate at the end of the notice period, the Landlord can apply to the First-tier Tribunal (Housing and Property Chamber) for an eviction order.
The grounds are split into four categories: let property required for another purpose; tenant’s status; tenant’s conduct; and legal impediment to let. Some of the grounds are mandatory and some are discretionary grounds. If a mandatory eviction ground is established on the evidence presented, the Tribunal must grant an eviction order without any consideration of whether it is reasonable in the circumstances. The main mandatory grounds include:
- The landlord intends to sell the property
- The landlord intends to live at the property as their principal home for at least 3 months
- The landlord intends to use the property for a non-residential purpose
- The tenant is no longer occupying the property
- The tenant has been in rent arrears for three or more months, with the total amount of arrears being equal to (or more than) one month’s rent at the date of the hearing (and those arrears are not wholly or partly a consequence of a delay or failure in the payment of a relevant benefit). In the event the total amount of arrears is less than one month’s rent at the date of the hearing, the ground will become discretionary whereby the Tribunal will require to consider if it is reasonable to grant an eviction order.
- The tenant has a relevant criminal conviction
If a discretionary ground is established, the Tribunal will only grant an eviction order where it considers it is reasonable in the circumstances to do so. The Tribunal must be persuaded that eviction will be reasonable in the circumstances. Some of the main discretionary grounds are:
- A member of the landlord’s family intends to live in the property
- The property was provided in the course of community care, which the tenant no longer requires
- The tenant is in breach of the tenancy agreement
- The tenant is involved in anti-social behaviour
- The tenant has an association with someone who has a relevant conviction or is involved in anti-social behaviour
For more information about the new Private Residential Tenancy, please contact our experienced team.