The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 (“the 2020 Act”) contains emergency powers relating to coronavirus and health protection in Scotland. In exercising these powers the Scottish Government have introduced rules which have afforded additional protections to tenants by increasing the notice periods required before eviction action can start and banning the enforcement of eviction orders in certain circumstances.
Eviction ban update
Since December 2020, the enforcement of eviction orders has been prohibited unless the order is based on the tenant’s antisocial behaviour or criminal activity. The ban applies in all areas which are within Tier 3 and Tier 4 of the Scottish “lockdown” levels.
The ban on the enforcement of eviction orders will continue until an area is moved to Tier 2. The most recent announcement from the First Minister indicated that it is hoped that the whole of Scotland will be moved move to Tier 1 by June 2021.
Until 30 September 2021, the current amendments to the required notice periods will remain in place. Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) must continue to give their tenants a period of six months’ notice before raising legal proceedings in most cases. The notice period may be shorter in certain circumstances. The notice period will be three months where the tenant made a false statement to obtain the property.
The notice period will be 28 days where:
- the tenant has been absent for 6 months or is failing to use the property as their principal home,
- the tenant has a relevant criminal conviction; or
- the tenant has engaged in relevant anti-social behaviour or behaviour amounting to harassment.
The above notice periods relate to notices served on or after 3 October 2020.
Mid-market rent properties
With many RSLs having mid-market rent properties, it is also important to note any changes the 2020 Act has made in respect of MMR tenants.
In addition to extended notice periods, the recent changes have seen the introduction of pre-action requirements for landlords seeking to evict MMR tenants for rent arrears. These requirements are similar to the PARs that already apply to the Scottish Secure tenancy used by social landlords. They include providing your tenant with information regarding their tenancy, attempting to enter into an affordable repayment arrangement and providing your tenant with details of free and independent sources of debt management advice. The Scottish Government have published guidance on private sector pre-action requirements which might be of assistance.
Our blog discussing the eviction ban and extended notice periods in the private rented sector can be found here.
The government have indicated that the eviction bans will be reviewed every 21 days to ensure that they remain necessary in the protection against the spread of Covid-19. Should you wish further information or advice, please get in touch with our team