Since the First Minister announced to the Scottish Parliament on 6 September that emergency legislation would be introduced to bring in a freeze on rent increases and ban evictions in the private and social rented sector we have had an increase in enquiries from landlords concerned about how this will affect them and how these policies will work in practice.
Unfortunately, there has been no concrete guidance from the Scottish Government and it is unlikely that the legislation will be published for another few weeks. This currently leaves landlords in a state of limbo.
Please see some guidance on how we believe that the measures may operate:-
Landlords are unable to issue any rental increase notices until at least 31 March 2023.
Any rental increase notices already issued which came into force before the legislation is likely to be enforceable. However, we await further information on whether rental increase notices issued recently will be enforceable.
Since the announcement on 6 September, it appears to be very much business as usual in respect of serving notices to terminate a lease and obtaining an eviction order.
We have continued to serve a number of notices on behalf of landlords providing the appropriate notice periods to end a tenancy. We have also continued to attend and obtain eviction orders in the First Tier Tribunal (the Tribunal). Of course, these are unable to be enforced until at least 31 March 2023.
Given that it can often take approximately 12 – 16 weeks from the lodging of an application to a hearing date being assigned in the Tribunal, our advice to landlords remains to proceed and obtain an eviction order despite the ban being in place. This will allow the eviction orders to be enforced as soon as the emergency legislation is lifted which we currently understand will be from 1 April 2023 (but may be subject to change).
If landlords wait until April 2023 to lodge an application in the Tribunal, there is a real risk of having to wait a further 6 months before an eviction order is granted.
We believe that there may be some exceptions to the eviction ban similar to those that were in place in light of the emergency coronavirus legislation whereby an eviction order may be enforced where the grounds for eviction are for anti-social or criminal behaviour. It may also be that an exception applies where there is a high level of rent arrears and this is the ground for eviction.
Where there are any other issues in respect of a tenancy such as rent arrears – a landlord is able to proceed and raise an application as normal.
In summary, we recommend that landlords looking to evict tenants proceed and issue notices to terminate validly and raise an application in the Tribunal where necessary. This will allow an eviction order obtained to be enforced as soon as the emergency legislation is no longer in force.
As a reminder, it is vitally important that the correct grounds and notices are used and served to tenants to terminate the lease. We have seen an increase in decisions from the Tribunal where a tenant has been successful in establishing wrongful termination.
Please contact our Elaine Elder on 01224 560723, 07730 520108 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss any tenancy queries further.