There are strict legal processes that private landlords must follow to evict a tenant – not doing so is a criminal offence that should be reported to the police.
There may be concerns that the emergency measures may lead to an increase in unlawful evictions.
To address this the act changes the way in which civil damages can be awarded for unlawful evictions. This will make it easier and more meaningful for tenants to challenge an unlawful eviction and receive appropriate damages where an unlawful eviction is found to have occurred.
This will discourage landlords from evicting tenants unlawfully by making it more difficult, more expensive and more of a risk for them.
The act temporarily amends the Housing (Scotland) Act 1988 to:
- replace the way damages for unlawful eviction are assessed, so that the calculation will be based on a multiplication of the monthly rent
- set the minimum and maximum level of damages that the Tribunal or, Sheriff Court in social housing cases, can award at a minimum of 3 times the monthly rent and a maximum 36 times the monthly rent
- place a new requirement on the Tribunal or Sheriff Court to inform the relevant authorities that a landlord has unlawfully evicted a tenant. The relevant authorities include the local authority landlord registration team, police or the Scottish Housing Regulator (if the landlord is a social landlord). This would allow these authorities to consider whether any further action should be taken in relation to the unlawful eviction
The act also enables the Tribunal (and the Sheriff Court in social housing cases) to set damages at a level lower than the minimum threshold where the circumstances of the case merit a lower award.
Proposed changes: it is our intention, subject to the approval of Parliament, to extend these provisions until 30 September 2023.
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