The original enactment of the Coronavirus Scotland Act 2020 gave the Scottish Government the power to extend the provisions of the Act from its original expiry of 30 September 2020 to 31 March 2021. The Act has now been extended and this means that the considerable restrictions in our daily lives will continue until at least 31 March 2021 as things stand. Crucially, this has a number of consequences for landlords and tenants facing housing issues for the foreseeable future.
Primarily, the increased periods of notice required to terminate a tenancy are going to continue into 2021. For information on the notice periods required for specific types of tenancy, please see our previous article from when the new rules were first announced.
Secondly, as most of the grounds are now discretionary, landlords need to convince a Tribunal that it is reasonable to grant an eviction order and a new crucial part of that is the rent arrears pre-action protocols. Landlords now also need to send various pieces of information to a tenant where they are applying to evict a tenant based on the basis of the non-payment of rent. This information includes terms of the tenancy agreement, the amount of arrears, the tenant’s rights under the tenancy, and where the tenant can get financial or debt advice. The protocols also include new rules where the Tribunal will require to consider the tenant’s circumstances, any payment plans entered into with the landlord and anything that the tenant has done that may affect their ability to pay any arrears.
What should make things easier is that the Housing Tribunal which deals with the overwhelming majority of residential tenancy disputes is now back up and running and having participated in a number of hearings, are dealing with any applications quickly and efficiently. All of the hearings we have been involved in have been dealt with by telephone and have found these to have worked well. Sheriff Officers also continue to be able to accept instructions to enforce the Tribunal’s orders whether that be for payment of money or for possession of a tenanted property.
It is important to note that tenants remain liable for any rent accrued under the tenancy despite the extension of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020. If tenants are facing difficulties in paying their rent, they should contact their landlord and attempt to reach an amicable solution that suits both parties.
The extension of this legislation shows it is going to be challenging times for landlords and tenants alike and we at Jackson Boyd remain happy to help with any queries you might have.