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Coronavirus (Scotland) Act - the impact on Scottish Residential Tenancies

Coronavirus (Scotland) Act - the impact on Scottish Residential Tenancies

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 has now come into force.  This Act proposes significant temporary changes to residential tenancy law in the private and social rented sectors.

What are the changes?

Private Residential Tenancies

-    Increased Notice Periods
The Act increases the notice period for the Private Residential Tenancy. The current notice period is either 28 or 84 days depending on either the duration of the tenant’s occupation or the ground relied upon.

The Act extends the notice period to 6 months for all grounds with the exception of the tenant not occupying the let property which will remain 28 days; and 3 months for:
-    landlord intends to live in the let property
-    a member of the landlord’s family intends to live in the let property
-    the tenant has a relevant conviction
-    the tenant has engaged in relevant anti-social behaviour
-    the tenant associates in the let property with a person who has a relevant conviction or  has engaged in relevant anti-social behaviour
-    the landlord is not registered by the relevant local authority under the Antisocial Behaviour etc. (Scotland) Act 2004
-    the let property or associated living accommodation is in multiple occupation and not licensed under Part 5 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006

-    Removal of mandatory eviction in all cases
All grounds will be discretionary whereby the Tribunal will require to consider the reasonableness of eviction irrespective of the ground relied upon. This means landlords will require to satisfy the Tribunal that eviction is reasonable in all eviction actions calling before the Tribunal where the notice was served after commencement of these provisions. This will likely mean that the tribunal will take into account, amongst other things, how the coronavirus outbreak has affected the personal circumstances of both the tenant and the landlord.

Assured and Short Assured Tenancies

-    Increased Notice Periods
The Notice Period for service of the AT6 has been extended from either 2 weeks or 2 months to 6 months in all cases with the exception of:

-    2  months if the notice specifies only Ground 9 in Part II of Schedule 5 to this Act (tenant will be given alternative suitable accommodation),
-    3 months if the notice specifies any of the following grounds  Ground 1 (landlord intends to occupy the property), Ground 15(the tenant has engaged in anti-social behaviour or been convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment),

The Notice Period for service of the ‘no fault’ s. 33 notice has been extended from 2 months to 6 months.  Accordingly, the landlord must now give 6 months’ notice that he requires possession of the property.

-    Removal of mandatory eviction in all cases
All grounds will be discretionary whereby the Tribunal will require to consider the reasonableness of eviction irrespective of the ground relied upon. This means landlords will require to satisfy the Tribunal that eviction is reasonable in all eviction actions calling before the Tribunal while this legislation remains in force where notice was served after commencement of these provisions.

What is the practical reality of these provisions?

The Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service (SCTS) has postponed all eviction actions both in the Sheriff Court and the First-tier Tribunal Housing and Property Chamber until June at the earliest. When business does resume, SCTS will likely prioritise fixing hearings for postponed cases. This means any new cases are unlikely to be heard for some considerable time and the effect of the extended notice period will result in further delays.

Timeframe
The Act proposes that these provisions will expire on 30 September 2020.  However, there is scope for Scottish Ministers to extend the provisions for periods of 6 months up to 30 September 2021. Scottish Ministers will be reviewing these powers every 2 months.

For more information or advice contact Claire Mullen -

Written by : Claire Mullen

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