The Scottish Government have made clear that no-one should lose their home because they have suffered financial hardship due to coronavirus. We expect landlords to be flexible with tenants facing financial difficulties and to signpost them to the sources of financial support available which are outlined in the private rented sector (PRS) tenant resource. We have also made it clear that tenants must continue to pay their rent where they are able to do so.
As part of our response, we have brought in temporary measures through the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 that extend the notice period to 6 months for evictions, in most cases. The Act also makes all grounds for repossession in the private rented sector discretionary. Through these steps we hope to help tenants to remain in their home during the coronavirus outbreak, giving those affected time to apply for and benefit from the financial support that is available.
Through the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No. 2) Act 2020, we have introduced private landlord pre-action requirements that private rented sector landlords should comply with prior to seeking to end assured, short assured and private residential tenancies in relation to rent arrears that occur during the coronavirus period. Compliance with these requirements will be considered by the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) (“the Tribunal”) as part of their discretion in deciding whether to grant an eviction order.
The Rent Arrears Pre-Action Requirements (Coronavirus) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 came into force on 30 September 2020. These lay out the pre-action requirements for landlords prior to seeking repossession of a property for rent arrears that have occurred during the duration of the Coronavirus Scotland Acts. As these Acts can be expired or extended by the Scottish Parliament, an exact date cannot be given, but it will not be beyond 30 September 2021.
Purpose of this guidance
The guidance supports private landlords to meet the requirements of the Rent Arrears Pre-Action Requirements (Coronavirus) (Scotland) Regulations 2020, which will come into force on 30 September 2020.
It sets out the steps a landlord can take to meet the pre-action requirements before taking a case to the Tribunal on the grounds of rent arrears that have occurred during the coronavirus outbreak.
Where landlords use letting agents, these requirements would still apply, though the letting agent may carry out the pre-action requirements on the landlord’s behalf.
The approaches outlined in the guidance are intended to help landlords and tenants to work together to sustain tenancies, helping to make sure that tenants can stay in their homes and landlords benefit from long term, successful tenancies.
The guidance may also be used by the First Tier Tribunal (Housing & Property Chamber) when considering whether a landlord has complied with the pre-action requirements when determining a repossession application.
The approach outlined in the guidance is intended to:
- minimise the need for eviction by ensuring landlords and tenants work together to manage rent arrears to avoid the need for eviction
- formalise good practice that many landlords are already adopting. Scottish Association of Landlords ‘show how to be kind’ campaign, gives some examples
- provide landlords with a clear understanding of the steps they should take before considering an eviction of a tenant
- help landlords understand how they can support tenants to sustain their tenancies
- help landlords understand the steps they should take to meet the pre-action requirements
- give clarity to tenants on what to expect from their landlord
This is the latest guidance on Coronavirus in Scotland, including what action you should take.
This remains a fast moving situation, as we move through the Coronavirus (COVID-19): Scotland’s route map.
If there are any queries on this guidance, please email: PRSTenancies@gov.scot