A number of RSL clients have been in touch with us recently to enquire whether there is a current ban on evictions in Scotland.
The extensive publicity suggesting that such a ban exists is misleading. There is no law in Scotland which prevents evictions taking place.
The most recent publicity has stemmed from the Scottish Government’s plans to consider extending the application of the extended notice periods beyond the original end date of 30 September 2020.
Currently the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 provides that our registered social landlord clients will be required to give longer periods of notice to tenants when serving a notice of proceedings from 7 April 2020 onwards.
The current periods are as follows:
All grounds need 6 months
EXCEPT – 3 months for:
- Ground 2: Using the house for immoral or illegal purposes or other criminal offences
- Ground 6: Tenant made a false statement to obtain the property
- Ground 7: Antisocial behaviour or conduct amounting to harassment
- Ground 8: Nuisance, annoyance or conduct amounting to harassment
AND FINALLY - 4 weeks’ notice for
- Ground 5 – been absent for 6 months or failing to use as principal home.
The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 provides that these current periods were to remain in place until 30 September 2020. The Scottish Government are now considering whether they should extend that date until 31 March 2020.
Many RSL clients have highlighted the detrimental effect of giving three months’ notice in antisocial behaviour cases has had on their ability to tackle antisocial behaviour in their local community, especially during lockdown. We have seen a significant increase in antisocial behaviour cases across the sector which supports the notion that antisocial tenants believe there is no quick recourse available to RSLs to tackle this behaviour.
We have been supporting the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and Glasgow West of Scotland Forum for Housing Associations who have been making representations to local MSPs about this extended date on behalf of RSLs.
Along the way we have confirmed that the Scottish Government do have the ability to amend the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 via Section 16 to provide that notice periods for antisocial behaviour cases could be reduced while notice periods for other grounds such as rent arrears could remain extended for longer.
We have also indicated that if the Scottish Government do make the decision to apply all current extend notice periods to 31 March 2020 then they could later move that date to an earlier date via Regulations in line with Section 8 of Schedule 1 of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 where it was considered appropriate.
We know that our RSL clients are keen to support tenants who have arrears arising from the current pandemic. However, we also appreciate that, as not-for-profit organisations, RSLs will have to continue to take action where tenants failed to engage, have accrued arrears not relating to the pandemic or simply failed to pay despite having an ability to do so. In those circumstances it is important that RSLs have the power to serve notice as usual to protect their position.
It is essential that RSLs consider how they will manage debts going forward and deal with eviction cases on an individual basis rather than applying a blanket rule which could later result in questions about failure to manage ongoing debts. There is a need to balance assisting tenants reasonably and managing large debt balances.
At present a debate is due to take place on 7 September 2020 regarding the extension of the current notice periods. Until any change is formally made to the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 the notice periods are still due to expire on 30th September 2020. We will keep you updated on what changes are implemented.
For information or advice, please get in touch with our team.