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Landlords - How to use the Small Claims Court in Scotland

How can landlords use the small claims court in Scotland to recover debt from a tenant? We work closely with Landlord Accreditation Scotland and one of their regular training sessions involves how to pursue a tenant for money through the courts using the small claims procedure.

It's supposed to be an easy way for people to recover money without a solicitor, but caution should be taken as there are some hidden dangers that landlords should be aware of:

The Court Rules
Small claims were designed to be easy but there are a number of rules that you will need to abide by when progressing a small claims action at court. You can obtain further guidance from the Scottish Courts website. You should also make sure you have a diary as there will be numerous deadlines to meet regarding court paperwork.

Legal Aid
If you have a tenant on a low income, chances are he or she will be entitled to legal aid which will enable them to pay for a lawyer to represent them in any small claims action raised by you. This could also mean that you don't get your court expenses at the end of a successful action.

What Happens After Court
Many people think that successfully obtaining an order for payment from the court automatically results in repayment of your debt. The truth is all you will be left with at the end of the court action is a bit of paper which you then have to try and enforce against the tenant.

  • You can however employ the use of Sheriff Officers to assist you in this regard and the methods of enforcement will depend on what assets the tenant has, if indeed they have any assets at all
  • You might also find our blog article 'How to Recover Money from a Debtor', of interest

Do You Have The Time?
Finally, court action can be time consuming and it may be months before the process is concluded. You could find yourself spending hours, maybe even days in a court room. Before diving in, landlords should always ask themselves: is it worth it?

If you'd like further information or advice, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our LetLaw Team.

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Written by : TC Young