Landlords –v- COVID 19
2020 was the year the world went on hold. In the past year we’ve all had to deal with things that we never would have anticipated. This has hit Landlords particularly hard.
It is usual to expect a period of calm following a revision of legislation. As the Private Residential Tenancies and the First Tier Tribunal (Housing & Property Chamber) were created some time ago time this would have been a reasonable assumption. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case for landlords.
The Scottish Government has been adamant, that no one should lose their home because of COVID-19. In response to the pandemic emergency legislation, the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020, came into force on 6th April 2020. The Act is now in place until 31st March 2021, an extension from it’s original 30th September 2020 deadline. We will see whether or not a further extension will be made.
Many landlords already believe that this area of law is too heavily weighted in favour of tenants. If you agree, it’s doubtful that you will like the subsequent regulations prompted by the 2020 Act.
So, what has changed?
Firstly, there are no longer mandatory grounds for eviction. The Tribunal now has discretion in every instance . This means it will consider whether the circumstances are reasonable to grant the order for eviction. This is regardless of the level or length of arrears.
Secondly, in most cases the notice period is now 6 months. Again, this is regardless of how long the tenant has lived in the property, or how high the arrears are.
Thirdly, the Rent Arrears Pre-Action Requirements (Coronavirus) Scotland Regulations 2020 places additional obligations on landlords, seeking eviction for rent arrears. Landlords are under obligation to provide the tenant with clear information and take reasonable efforts to agree suitable payment plans. This is similar to regulations for lenders, looking to repossess properties after their borrowers fail to maintain mortgage payments.
As with everything Covid related, this is an evolving environment. Rest assured we are keeping a constant eye on the legislation to ensure that we can properly advise our landlord clients. Whilst a number of the changes are only temporary, we would anticipate that some, particularly the pre-action requirements, will remain (at least in some form) going forward.
If you would like more information about our Landlord-Tenant services, please do not hesitate to contact our Litigation Department on 01224 332400. We will always aim to provide clear and understandable advice, taking account of the economic factors and risks involved in any litigation.