The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020
This piece of temporary legislation received Royal Assent on the 6th April 2020 and includes, amongst many other things, changes to the law relating to the Private Rented Sector. These changes will apply until the 30th September 2020 initially, although the legislation gives a provision for an extension of the “relevant period” up to the 30th September 2021.
How will this affect you?
Private Residential Tenancies
For landlords who have let their properties under a Private Residential Tenancy, the main changes covered by the Act will affect increased Notice periods and the changes to how the Grounds for repossession will be considered by the First Tier Tribunal.
Increased Notice Periods
The Act will increase the notice period which a landlord must give to a tenant should the landlord wish to end the tenancy. The current notice periods are 28 or 84 days depending on either the duration of the tenant’s occupation or the Ground relied upon.
The Act will extend the notice period to 6 months for all Grounds with the following exceptions:
- where the tenant is not occupying the let property the notice period will remain at 28 days.
There will be a 3 notice period where:
- a landlord intends to live in the let property
- a member of the landlord’s family intends to live in the let property
- the tenant has a relevant conviction
- the tenant has engaged in relevant anti-social behaviour
- the tenant associates in the let property with a person who has a relevant conviction or has engaged in relevant anti-social behaviour
- the landlord is not registered by the relevant local authority under the Antisocial Behaviour etc. (Scotland) Act 2004
- the let property or associated living accommodation is in multiple occupation and not licensed under Part 5 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006
Assured and Short Assured Tenancies
For those Landlords who are still renting under the old tenancy regime, there are also changes to the Notice periods
The Notice Period for service of the AT6 has been extended to 6 months in all cases except:
- 2 months if the tenant can be given suitable alternative accommodation.
- 3 months if the landlord intends to occupy the property
- 3 months if the tenant has engaged in anti-social behaviour or been convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment.
Specifically for Short Assured Tenancies, the “no fault” notice period to end a SAT has been increased from 2 months to 6 months.
Removal of mandatory eviction in all cases
All Grounds will be discretionary during the “relevant period” of the Act. This means that the First Tier Tribunal will apply the test of “reasonableness” to every case irrespective of the Ground relied upon. Landlords will therefore need to be able to show that their need/right to repossess the property outweighs the tenant’s need/right to occupy the property. Given the background of why this legislation has been enacted it is highly likely that the Tribunal will take into account how the coronavirus outbreak has affected the personal circumstances of both the tenant and the landlord.
First Tier Tribunal
The new legislation affects Notices served from the 6th April 2020 – it does not affect any Notice already served.
From the 6th April 2020, any Notice served against a tenant must comply with the new Notice periods. If the tenant does not voluntarily vacate the property and the landlord makes an application for an eviction order, the FTT will apply the changes as set out in the legislation when considering the circumstances of each case.
The First Tier Tribunal Housing and Property Chamber have postponed all eviction hearings until the end of May 2020, at the earliest, although this date may change depending on how the current crisis changes between now and then.
Loans available to private Landlords
The Scottish Government has announced that it will be offering financial assistance to eligible landlords who suffer a loss of income as a result of the coronavirus. These loans will be interest free and should be available by the end of April, back dated to the 1st March, if necessary. It is understood that these interest-free loans will have deferred payments, the intention being to take the pressure off landlords in the short term, if their tenants are having difficulty making rent payments.
For more detailed information on the changes contact our Leasing Manager Maureen Blease