The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill was introduced to Parliament on 7th October 2015. The Bill followed two consultations, the first in October 2014 (which received over 2,500 responses) and a second in March 2015 (which received over 7,500 responses.) The intention of the Bill is to deliver improved security of tenure for tenants, introduce a model tenancy agreement for use in the private rented sector and also to introduce new procedures for starting and ending a tenancy in the private rented sector.
One of the biggest changes imposed in the Bill is the removal of the “no fault” ground of repossession (also referred to as the “Section 33” route). Currently landlords in the private rented sector can terminate a Short Assured Tenancy at its natural end date by service of a Notice to Quit and a Section 33 Notice, giving two months notice to the tenant. No reasons require to be given to the tenant nor to any Sheriff where a repossession action requires to be raised. Many landlords use the Section 33 Route where there has been indeed a breach of tenancy (usually rent arrears or antisocial behaviour) but the use of the Section 33 Route is simpler and less risky than using the alternative being the AT6 route currently available to landlords.
The removal of the Section 33 repossession route has been a real cause for concern among landlords. The proposal in the Bill is that a landlord will only be able to repossess a property where they can rely on one or more of sixteen proposed grounds, which include:
The Bill also provides that there will a new “Notice to Leave” to be served by a landlord, which will include notification of the relevant ground being relied on.
Essentially if the landlord does not have one or more of the grounds of repossession contained within the Bill to rely on, they will not be able to take steps to repossess the property.
Furthermore, the notice period that a landlord will require to give the tenant will vary, depending on the length of time the tenant has occupied the property. A tenancy will also no longer roll on a monthly basis at the end of the initial contractual term. The notice periods that a landlord would require to give a tenant are as follows:-
Regardless of the length of tenancy, a landlord would only require to give 28 days notice where the tenant has either failed to pay three consecutive months rent in full; behaved antisocially or is in breach of the tenancy agreement, or has committed a relevant criminal offence.
We will continue to monitor the progress of the Bill and update the blog as and when information becomes available. If you wish to discuss any aspect of the proposed Bill please do not hesitate to contact our Property team or fill out our online enquiry form.
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