Changes to Eviction procedures during the Covid-19 crisis
The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act comes in to effect today (7th April, 2020), and brings in new rules to extend the notice period required to be given to tenants before landlords can start legal action to obtain an order for eviction.
Initially these changes will apply until 30th September, 2020 but there is provision in the legislation for the end date to be extended.
It should be noted that any evictions where the landlord served Notice on the tenant before 6 April, 2020 are not affected by the changes set out in the Act.
The legislation increases the notice period for a Private Residential Tenancy. The current notice period is either 28 or 84 days depending upon either the duration of the tenant’s occupation or the ground relied upon. This new legislation extends the notice period to 6 months for all grounds, with the exception of the tenant not occupying the let property.
The legislation also makes changes to the notice period that the landlord is required to give the tenant. The notice period depends on the type of tenancy and the eviction ground being used. The requirements are:
Private Residential Tenancies
Ground 1 – landlord selling – 6 months
Ground 4 – landlord moving in – 3 months
Ground 5 – landlord’s family member moving in – 3 months
Ground 10 – tenant not occupying the property – 28 days
Ground 11 – breach of tenancy terms – 6 months
Ground 12 – tenant has owed some rent for 3 months – 6 months
Ground 13 – criminal behaviour – 3 months
Ground 14 – anti-social behaviour – 3 months
Ground 15 – association with person with criminal conviction / anti-social behaviour – 3 months
Ground 16 – landlord has been refused registration or had registration revoked – 3 months
Ground 17 – landlord’s HMO licence has been revoked – 3 months
All other grounds – 6 months’ notice is required.
Assured / Short Assured Tenancies
Ending a Short Assured Tenancy using a Notice to Quit and Section 33 notice – 6 months’ notice ending on an ish date of the tenancy.
Ending an Assured / Short Assured Tenancy using an AT6 notice – the notice period depends on the ground being used:
Ground 1 – required as or previously used as landlord’s principal home – 3 months
Ground 8 – 3 months’ rent arrears – 6 months
Ground 9 – suitable alternative accommodation available – 2 months
Ground 11 – persistent delay in paying rent – 6 months
Ground 12 – some rent unpaid – 6 months
Ground 13 – breach of tenancy terms – 6 months
Ground 15 – anti-social behaviour – 3 months
All other grounds – 6 months’ notice is required
Calculating notice periods
The Act sets out that 3 and 6 month periods end either:
(a) on the same day of the month as they began e.g. 6 May to 6 November, or
(b) if the month in which the period ends has no such day, on the final day of that month e.g. 31 May to 30 November (as there is no 31st November!)
Whilst this Act remains in law, all evictions will be discretionary. As a result, if a tenant does not voluntarily vacate a property with the landlord therefore having to apply for an eviction order a Tribunal may decide to exercise a reasonableness test in deciding whether an eviction should proceed. This means that a Tribunal will decide, based on the circumstances of the case, whether the tenant’s need / right to occupy the property is outweighed by the landlord’s need / right to repossess the property.
It should also be noted that The First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) will not be hearing cases until at least 28 May although this could be much longer.
This Act may have important implications for Landlords and if you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact us.