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New tenancy consultation – call to action

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on the biggest changes to the tenancy system in Scotland in over 25 years. The first consultation closed at the end of December and an analysis of the responses can be found here.

The Government has now launched a second consultation which revises and gives more detail on the proposals.

We are disappointed that the Government has made it clear in the second consultation that they will be removing the “no fault” ground for possession. Despite this disappointment, we are pleased to see that SAL and CLA – whom Chapmans are a member of – have been successful in achieving some of the improvements to the proposals we have been campaigning for including: –

  • the ability for the landlord/tenant to agree an initial fixed term of any duration during which neither party can terminate the arrangement unless the tenant has been at fault;
  • the ability for the lease to roll on indefinitely after the fixed term has expired – this gives both parties the flexibility to terminate at any time on giving the required notice. The landlord can only end the lease if a ground for possession applies;
  • an increase in the number of proposed grounds for possession from 8 to 11 including grounds for ending leases to employees and to allow occupation by a religious worker;
  • a new ground to cover situations where the tenant has abandoned the property;
  • the abolition of bureaucratic pre tenancy notices;
  • a model tenancy agreement to simplify the paperwork for both parties – the terms will be agreed in secondary legislation following consultation with stakeholders;
  • a simplification of the paperwork required to end a lease with a “notice to leave” being the only document required;
  • an accelerated process for termination where the tenants are in arrears with this being a mandatory ground if the tenants have arrears equating to one month’s rent, or have had this level of arrears for 3 months or more at a previous point in the lease;
  • no general controls on rent levels, with an acknowledgement that this could discourage much needed investment.

In addition to the loss of the “no fault” ground, there are aspects of the proposals in the second consultation which concern SAL, CLA and many agents, in particular: –

  • no ground for possession to allow student lets to be ended to tie in with the end of the academic year;
  • an element of discretion being introduced into the eviction procedure for the breach grounds;
  • no tightening up of procedures to evict a tenant who is committing anti-social behaviour;
  • a proposal to allow local authorities, with ministerial approval, to designate an area a “rent pressure area” allowing rent increases for sitting tenants to be controlled.

We call on all landlords to respond to this crucial consultation paper by the deadline of 10th May. The consultation document and response form can be found here. Please get in touch if you wish to review Chapmans’ response.

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