Further changes to the rules on terminating residential tenancies
28th May 2020
On 1 April 2020, the Scottish Parliament approved the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020. This was updated on 26 May 2020 when the imaginatively name Coronavirus (Scotland) (No. 2) Act 2020 came into force.
In an earlier briefing (which you can find here https://www.wjm.co.uk/news/coronavirus--new-rules-on-terminating-tenancies), we outlined the provisions in the first Act about the changes to how tenancies can be dealt with during the current Coronavirus emergency.
The second Act makes a further important change in favour of tenants of Private Residential and Assured Tenancies of domestic properties (NB. there is no further change to the rules on commercial tenancies).
It provides that, if the termination is to be on a ground relating to arrears of rent, and if any part of those arrears arose during the period in which the second Act is in force, then the Tribunal cannot allow termination unless it is satisfied that the landlord complied with certain pre-action requirements.
The specific requirements have not yet been published, but are expected to include an obligation to provide the tenant with information about the tenancy and his or her arrears, and to work reasonably with the tenant to try to come to an agreement about payment.
The Tribunal has to take into account the extent to which the landlord has complied with the pre-action requirements, so a nod in the direction of compliance may not be enough.
As with all of the emergency legislation, there are sunset clauses. In the case of the second Act, it will automatically expire on 30 September 2020, although the Scottish Government will have to report to the Scottish Parliament every 3 weeks on whether the provisions remain necessary, and the expiry period can be extended to 31 March 2021 if required.
Please let us know if you need specific advice on your own circumstances.
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