As we end probably one of the most unusual months of April I imagine we all have had, the Scottish and UK Government have made some changes which will affect us all for at least the next 6 months, so I will try and recap on as much as I can without overwhelming.
COVID-19 changes to model lease
The Scottish Government has made changes to the model private residential tenancy (PRT) lease to reflect the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act changes to notice procedures, updated smoke detector requirements (allowing long life battery detectors) and updated deposit legislation).
COVID-19 changes to eviction procedures
In response to the coronavirus crisis, Scottish Ministers have introduced legislation which makes changes to the eviction procedure for tenancies in the private and social rented sector. Initially these changes will apply from 7 April 2020 until 30 September 2020 but there is provision in the legislation for the end date to be changed.
Managing rent arrears during COVID-19
Under the terms of the tenancy agreement the rent is still due as normal unless the landlord agrees to a rent reduction or for tenants to pay what is due over a longer period. Tenants are always sent a separate email to provide guidance on how to deal with rent arrears that arise due to COVID-19 including sources of financial help.
Tenants are encouraged to seek their own advice on any benefits or sick pay they may be entitled to. They can get free advice from:
COVID-19 financial assistance for landlords
Last week due to lobbying by the Scottish Association of Landlords the Scottish Government announced that they will be offering financial assistance 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. Unfortunately, and I have tried very hard not be to negative in these emails, as of today the particulars for the loan have not been released, of course that could change during the course of today and as soon and we have the information, we will send it out.
Social distancing/personal hygiene advice for staff/contractors/tenants
Guidance on the precautions we must all take to reduce the spread of the virus can be found on the NHS website here.
Which work activities are “absolutely necessary”?
- Move ins where the incoming tenant is not able to postpone the move in date, for example because otherwise they would have nowhere to live
- Emergency maintenance work e.g. heating/hot water repairs, water leaks
- Safety checks to obtain a landlords gas safety certificate
- Move outs to check the property is safe and secure – these should be done without the tenant being present and to reduce the risk of virus spread from surfaces we recommend doing them 72 hours after the tenant has moved out
The government has delayed the launch of the Energy Efficiency (Domestic Private Rented Property) (Scotland) Regulations 2020, which were due to come into force on 1 April 2020. The work on improving energy efficiency in private rented housing will resume once the current COVID-19 crisis comes to an end and the regulations may still come into force before the first trigger point of 1 October 2020.
Council tax: retrospective student exemption
Many members have student properties unexpectedly empty as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. This link is to the details of the student let council tax exemption which landlords may be able to apply for retrospectively if all the criteria end up being met.
Yesterday the UK Government won the Right to Rent Appeal.
Last year the High Court in London ruled that the UK government’s Right To Rent law causes discrimination and breaches human rights legislation. It has also stated that it would be illegal to roll it out in Scotland without further evaluation. The law requires landlords to check their prospective tenants have the right to live in the UK. It was implemented in England in 2016 but has not yet been rolled out in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
The UK government has now had the verdict overturned at the Court of Appeal. Although the court found that the scheme leads some landlords to discriminate against tenants without a British passport, it took the view that this the scheme is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate objective does not violate human rights law.
The body who brought this case against the government, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, has stated that it intends to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court. With this prospect, and the government’s focus currently being on the coronavirus crisis, we consider it very unlikely that the scheme will be implemented in Scotland in the foreseeable future.
Glasgow Property Letting Changes
In anticipation of whatever the new work environment and routine will be, Sarah has been updating the social media pages to incorporate the video walk throughs, please click the links on the signature below and any feed back would e appreciated as well as a like an share if that is possible.
We are planning on opening the property software to the landlords so they have access to the statements and other information. This is going to have to be phased at this point. If you receive an email with log in details, please try them out and if there are any issues let the team know. We are not sending out the log in details to every landlord straight away as there may be tweaks needed.
Also if you are replying to this email if possible you could put your name, or the property in the subject header so we can allocate the email and please send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org as the individual mail boxes are not being checked as regularly.
As we leave the strangest April behind us, and welcome in May the GPL team wish you and your family a safe and healthy time, and by working together we will be able to make things work smoothly and as efficiently as possible.
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