New rules to Protect Private Tenants from Eviction
The Scottish Government is expected to introduce new rules that will, hopefully, bring private tenants more protection from evictions; these new rules will be classed as pre-action requirements (or PARs) ultimately meaning that landlords will need to take certain steps before looking to commence eviction action.
Whether a Scottish landlord is seeking to evict a tenant, or just to recover rent arrears, these actions need to be raised in the First-Tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing & Property Chamber); a legal tribunal – and the equivalent of a court of law in Scotland – that can grant eviction orders against private tenants.
The tribunal can decide not to grant eviction if a landlord fails to comply with these rules, depending on the extent to which the landlord has failed to follow them.
Other action to protect tenants
The Scottish Government has released these rules as part of a whole tranche of measures aimed at protecting tenants that have got into arrears.
The measures that have been published include an increase in the required notice period (from a 28 day notice period to a 6 month period under the new rules) for landlords to give tenants before they raise an action to evict them with the First-Tier Tribunal for Scotland.
Under previous rules for the eviction of private tenants, the Tribunal had to grant an eviction order if the landlord could prove that the tenant had been in arrears for three months or more when the action was raised, and, still owed more than a month’s rent when the tribunal was heard.
The new rules provide the tribunal with the discretion not to evict a tenant, regardless of whether or not the above criteria are met – adding a further level of protection for private tenants facing eviction as a result of uncertainties caused by the current climate; which is welcome news for anyone worried about their finances and behind on their rent.
The new rules in full:
The new rules now require landlords (if arrears have been accrued after May the 26th 2020) to provide the tenant with:
- Clear information regarding their tenancy agreement, their rent arrears and what their rights are, prior to raising any action.
- Information as to where they can find financial support and advice on trust deeds and other forms of debt management.
And, in addition:
- Landlords must now make efforts to allow, and/or enable, the tenant to enter a repayment plan to clear their arrears.
If your circumstances change
Under the new rules, landlords are required to consider any steps the tenant is taking – such as getting debt advice, applying for benefits (such as Discretionary Housing Payments) or applying for Universal Credit – that could inhibit their ability to repay their rent within a reasonable time frame, before taking action to begin the process of evicting them.
Again, welcome news as it means there are things tenants can do to try and help their situation.
Additionally, landlords must be understanding of situations where a tenant has complied with any repayment plan that they’ve entered into with the landlord. If the tenant has been maintaining repayments that’ll see the arrears paid off over a reasonable period, then this is important and would mean that a tribunal would look more favourable on the tenant than the landlord.
If the landlord doesn’t comply with the new rules
Although it doesn’t mean that an eviction order won’t be granted, it’s likely that – where a tenant has been taking reasonable steps, as outlined above, to seek debt advice, and/or enter a repayment plan with the landlord – any failure by the landlord to engage with the tenant to try and reach a mutually agreeable outcome, will be viewed unfavourably. Especially given that Tribunals now have the discretion not to grant eviction orders.
Resultantly, it’s advisable that private tenants in Scotland discuss the issue with their landlord and seek debt advice if they’re in rent arrears.
If you’re struggling with debts, or worried about your finances, Scottish Debt Help is here for you. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 0141 816 0394 for friendly advice and assistance.