Scottish Private Residential Tenancies

A new leasing regime is being introduced by the Scottish Parliament in terms of the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016.  The Scottish Private Residential Tenancy – or SPRT – will replace the existing private leasing regime in Scotland.  At present, privately let properties are let on a short assured tenancy.  The beauty of a short assured tenancy is that at the end of the period of lease, provided certain notices are served in the correct order at the correct time, the Court must grant an eviction of a tenant.  This is what is known as a “no fault” ground for repossession.  The no fault ground however is set to disappear under the new regime.  On one hand, tenants will have enhanced rights of security.  However, as this article will hopefully demonstrate, there are many new grounds available to a landlord to regain possession of their property.

The Act will come into force in December this year, after which, no new short assured tenancies can be created.  Existing short assured tenancies will remain in place until they in turn come to an end.  It can be appreciated therefore that it is important that landlords with existing tenancies should take advice on the changes and be aware of the impact those will have.

A SPRT will continue indefinitely unless (a) the tenant wants to leave or (b) the landlord can end it on one of the prescribed grounds for re-possession.  The no fault ground has gone for good.  A tenant must give four weeks notice to leave no matter how long the lease is for.  Depending upon the ground a landlord founds upon, the notice period can be twelve weeks if the tenancy was for six months or more, or four weeks if the tenancy lasted for less than six months.  Regardless of the length of tenancy, if the tenant is not occupying the property, or has failed to pay three consecutive months rent in full, or is in breach of the tenancy agreement, or has behaved anti-socially, then the notice period is four weeks.  The new eviction grounds include where a landlord intends to sell, or the property is to be sold by the lender, or the landlord intends to re-furbish, or the landlord intends to live in the property.  In all of these cases, the tribunal, if satisfied the relevant ground applies, must grant an order for eviction.  Further, if the landlord intends to start using the property as a shop, or the tenant is no longer an employee of the landlord, or the tenant is not occupying the property, the tribunal is bound to grant an eviction order.  It is also an eviction ground where the tenant has been in rent arrears for three or more consecutive months.  Where there is a finding that for three or more consecutive months the tenant has continuously been in arrears and that at any point in time the arrears have been an amount equal to or greater than one months rent then the tribunal are bound to make an eviction order.  If it can be shown there has been criminal behaviour by a tenant or anti-social behaviour then the tribunal may grant eviction.

From the end of the year, there will be one model tenancy agreement to be used by landlords and tenants alike.  There will be no notices required at the beginning of the lease as there are in the case of the present short assured tenancies.

Landlords will regret the passing of the no-fault ground of repossession.  However, it remains to be seen whether in real terms a tenant does have improved security of tenure given the fact that landlords can seek an eviction order simply on the basis that they intend to live there themselves or that they wish to sell their property or re-furbish it.

If you require any advice in relation to property leasing matters and in particular in relation to eviction, please do not hesitate to contact Court Partner, Duncan M Love by email at d.love@jgcollie.co.uk

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