Civil justice statistics in Scotland: 2016-2017

The 2016-17 Civil Justice in Scotland release includes main statistics tables and figures and supplementary statistics tables.

This document is part of a collection

11. Eviction

The number of initiated eviction cases dropped slightly for the first time in five years, and numbers are now 28% lower than in 2008-09

Eviction in Scotland

Eviction cases involve the taking of property by the owner from an occupier, usually a tenant. Landlords can apply for an eviction order if they want their tenants removed from the property. Reasons for doing so can include rent arrears, breach of tenancy agreements or when the tenancy comes to an end and the occupier refuses to vacate the property. Most eviction cases relate to rent arrears, rather than for breaches of some other aspect of the tenancy agreement.

Initiating eviction action for social housing (local authority and registered social landlord) rent arrears cases can only happen after the landlord has followed a set of pre-action requirements. Eviction should not be confused with repossession which, for the purposes of these statistics, relates to the retaking of property when a borrower is in breach or default of a mortgage or loan secured on the property.

Eviction cases are raised under summary cause procedure within the sheriff courts, and once an eviction order is granted, allow a landlord to legally remove tenants from the property and retake possession of it. It is important to note that by granting an eviction order, the courts permit the eviction process to proceed, but this does not mean that eviction will necessarily take place.

Eviction cases made up 19% of all civil court cases initiated in 2016-17 (Table 22, Table 1). The eviction statistics in this release relate to tenants of rented properties in social housing (local authority and registered social landlords) and private sector tenants. Detailed statistics on the eviction of local authority tenants are available from Housing Statistics for Scotland.

Courts statistics

There were 14,304 eviction cases initiated in 2016-17 related to tenants of properties in the social housing and private sectors (Table 22). This represented a 3% drop on 2015-16, and was 28% lower than in 2008-09 (Figure 13). This is the first drop in eviction cases initiated since 2012-13.

The majority of eviction cases initiated in 2016-17 (around two in three) related to local authority tenants[11]. Data published by the Scottish Housing Regulator (not Official Statistics) suggest that a large majority of the remaining cases were initiated by Registered Social Landlords.

The increased focus on the management of rent arrears cases by local authorities and registered social landlords is likely to have contributed to the overall reduction in social rented sector rent arrears cases coming to court since 2008-09. Measures to strengthen the protection for such tenants where eviction action for rent arrears is being considered, including pre-action requirements, were also introduced in the Housing (Scotland) Act 2010 and came into force on 1 August 2012. However, the factors behind the increase in the number of initiated eviction cases between 2012-13 and 2015-16 are less clear.

Over half of eviction cases were found "for pursuer", and 87% of cases were undefended (Table 23).

Figure 13: Eviction cases initiated in the sheriff courts

Figure 13: Eviction cases initiated in the sheriff courts


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