The Scottish government has passed contentious changes to eviction rules in the Coronavirus Recovery and Reform Bill.
Temporary changes to eviction rules made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will now become permanent. Landlords who want to evict tenants will only be able to do so under one of 18 specific grounds: for example, if the tenant receives a relevant criminal conviction or if the landlord wants to move into the property.
Additionally, all grounds for eviction will be discretionary rather than mandatory. All possession claims must be taken to the First-tier Tribunal, who will decide if the grounds for eviction are met and whether or not to grant an eviction.
The pre-action protocol for landlords will also remain in place. Landlords who want to evict a tenant for rent arrears are supposed to inform the tenant of the amount of rent they owe, give them guidance on accessing financial support, and make a reasonable effort to agree a payment plan. While following the pre-action protocol isn’t mandatory, the First-tier Tribunal can take into account whether or not the landlord has followed it when deciding whether to grant an eviction.
Property industry groups warned that permanently changing the eviction process would discourage investment and shrink the supply of homes to rent. Sector professionals also questioned why the new rules had been bundled into the Coronavirus Recovery and Reform Bill instead of being included in a dedicated housing bill.
In the short term, though, not much will change. While they will no longer have an end date, the changes to eviction grounds have already been in place since October 2020. Letting agents and landlords have already had to update their evidence-gathering processes to support their eviction claims.
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