We hope you are keeping safe and well!
The Scottish Parliament debated the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill which was passed yesterday evening and we wanted to provide an update on the main points that affect landlords.
You can access the full details of The Bill here - https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/114929.aspx
The Bill is obviously wide ranging however the main parts relevant to landlords were an announcement of an interest free loan scheme for landlords, and the completion of the parliamentary process for making changes to the notice and eviction processes as outlined last week, plus the details of these notice changes.
COVID-19 financial assistance for landlords
The Scottish Government announced that they will be offering financial assistance in the form of interest free loans to landlords who suffer a loss of income as a result of the coronavirus crisis. The interest free loans should be available by the end of April 2020. We will provide further details when we receive them.
We are aware that a loan is not as good as a grant, however it is a significant concession which we must welcome, particularly with it being interest free. It is worth noting this is available for landlords letting in Scotland only.
COVID-19 changes to eviction procedures
Within the bill, Scottish Ministers approved legislation which makes changes to the eviction procedure for tenancies in the private and social rented sector. Initially these changes will apply from when the legislation receives Royal Assent which is expected to be early next week and available until 30 September 2020 but there is provision within the legislation for the end date to be changed.
Please note that the changes detailed below do not apply to any evictions where the landlord served notice on the tenant before the date the legislation receives Royal Assent.
During the period detailed above all evictions will be discretionary, which means that if the tenant doesn’t voluntarily vacate and the landlord has to apply for an eviction order at the tribunal, the tribunal may decide to exercise a reasonableness test in deciding whether to evict the tenant or not. In simple terms, this means that the tribunal will decide based on the circumstances of the case whether the tenant’s need/right to occupy the property is outweighed by the landlord’s need/right to repossess the property.
The legislation also makes changes to the notice period that the landlord is required to give the tenant. The notice period depends on the type of tenancy and the eviction ground being used.
Landlords should also be aware that the Housing and Property Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal that deals with eviction cases, will not be hearing cases until at least 28 May but this could be much longer.
The changes to notice periods that will be introduced depending on the type of tenancy are detailed below: