New deal for tenants - rented sector reform proposals: consultation

Background for tenants and landlords who wish to respond to our landlord and tenant engagement questionnaire on rented sector reform, which is asking for views on some of the details of the proposals.

Greater protections during the eviction process

The issue

Eviction can happen for a number of reasons, for example a change of use of the property, change in status of the landlord or tenant or due to tenant conduct. We know that there are certain circumstances and times of year where being evicted can be particularly problematic.

Our New Deal consultation asked for views on introducing a specific requirement on both the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) and the Scottish Courts, that where an eviction order/decree is granted, they should consider whether a delay to the enforcement of that eviction order/decree is needed during the winter period.

Overview of proposed change

68. The original focus of this measure was to apply to the winter period only, however following consultation and feedback from stakeholders we are exploring a more general approach which would see the Court/Tribunal considering a delay regardless of the time of year.

69. This would ensure that the Tribunal or Court consider whether a delay to the enforcement of an individual eviction should occur due to the circumstances of the case. This would:

  • where appropriate, allow for consideration to be given to any seasonal pressures e.g. winter period, and give those being evicted additional time to find alternative accommodation and access necessary support;
  • reduce, as far as possible, the negative impact of eviction at a time of greater stress resulting from additional seasonal pressures during times like the winter period; and
  • ensure that all the circumstances of a case are considered and that the rights of tenants to be protected during an eviction are appropriately balanced against the rights of landlords to recover the let property.

70. If progressed, we propose this measure would apply to all private and social rented sector tenancies i.e. those under The Rent (Scotland) Act 1984, The Housing (Scotland) Act 1988, The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 and The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016.

71. To support implementation we would set out in legislation factors that the Tribunal and Court would consider in deciding if it is reasonable to delay enforcement, for example:

  • Whether any seasonal pressures apply including but not limited to winter, or other relevant circumstances;
  • Whether enforcement taking place during a particular period would cause financial hardship or a negative impact on the health or long term disability of a tenant or a member of the tenant's household;
  • In the private sector, whether a delay to enforcement would detrimentally affect the landlords' health or long term disability or cause financial hardship;

72. There are certain types of an eviction where we think a delay to enforcement would rarely be reasonable, we are therefore exploring exempting certain repossession grounds from any new requirement to consider a delay including antisocial conduct, criminal convictions, and vacant/abandoned properties.

73. The Tribunal/Court's current discretion, would not be restricted in any way and it would still be within the Tribunal/Court's discretion to delay the enforcement of any eviction order where it was reasonable to do so in the circumstances. It just would not be mandatory for them to do so for those exempt from the measures.

74. In the social rented sector, landlords must make use of an eviction decree for rent arrears, or an eviction decree for grounds including rent arrears, within a maximum period of 6 months of it being extracted by the Court, (or where an appeal is lodged after the date of extract of the decree, a maximum period of 6 months from the date the court disposes of the appeal). If they do not the legal process has to restart. We do not want any delay to enforcement to negatively impact on a social landlords ability to recover a property by making them go over this time limit. So we would make clear any delay to enforcement due to the circumstances of the case, should not count towards the 6 month time limit.

75. The questionnaire seeks views on the proposal for the Court/Tribunal considering a delay regardless of the time of year.



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