On 1 April 2020, the Scottish Parliament passed the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020. It received Royal Assent on 6 April 2020 and comes into force today 7th April.
This Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 was passed as an emergency response to the Coronavirus pandemic. The Act contains a number of amendments to housing law in Scotland.
The tribunal prior to this legislation had already decided to halt proceedings though we understand it continues to accept any application lodged by relevant parties. This means that cases will continue to be accepted by the Tribunal but as they cannot be progressed it means that recent applications will not likely be heard by the Tribunal until sometime in the last quarter of 2020. Furthermore, since Sheriff Officers are required to serve Tribunal applications on tenants it is likely that Sheriff Officers will have difficulty serving actions at the moment given the government advice regarding social distancing.
Notwithstanding the practical issues, the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act makes a number of legislative changes to housing law in Scotland. The changes to Assured Tenancies are :-
- Ground 5 – the tenant not occupying a property –The notice period required to be given by the landlord is now 28 days.
- Grounds 2 (relevant convictions), 6 (false statements), 7 & 8 (anti-social behaviour grounds) – the notice period required is now three months.
- All other grounds (Grounds 1, 4, 9, and 10 – 18) including the one based on non-payment of rent by the tenant is now six months.
In terms of Short Assured Tenancies, the changes to the notice periods are the following: –
- Grounds 1, 2 are subject to a two month notice period.
- Terminating on grounds 3 – 17 is now subject to the six-month notice period. This includes grounds based on the non-payment of rent by the tenant.
The new legislation has also mandated that most of the mandatory grounds of possession of a property are now discretionary for Private Residential Tenancies. Furthermore, the ground that historically allowed tenants to be removed for non-payment of rent for three consecutive months now has an added requirement. You will also have to convince the Tribunal that it is reasonable to grant an order for possession of a property. In the current climate with the virus ongoing, this seems very challenging.
In terms of the Private Residential Tenancies, the periods of notice required to be given to tenants has been extended. The amended periods of notice are now the following: –
- Where the tenant does not occupy the property as their home a 28-day notice period applies.
- For grounds noted below, the notice period has
been extended to three months where:
- The landlord member of the landlord’s family intend to live in the property;
- The tenant has a relevant conviction;
- It is established that the tenant or a person they have associated with at the tenanted property has behaved in an anti-social manner or has a relevant conviction;
- That the landlord is not registered with the applicable local authority; and
- That the let property is in multiple occupation and not licensed.
- For every other ground of possession and crucially this includes the non-payment of rent for three consecutive months, the period of notice required by the legislation is six months.
- It should be noted that if a landlord wishes to rely on a ground based on the tenant not occupying the let property (with a shorter notice period) and one of the grounds also requiring three months, then the period of notice will be three months and not 28 days.
In conclusion, we are in very challenging times and if you wish advice on how to navigate these changes we at Jackson Boyd are happy to help.