“Did you know that a bee dies after he stings you?… And that around the tenth of August, any year, you can look up in the sky at night and see dozens and dozens of shooting stars?” – Elizabeth Enright.
I think we are in a no news is good news situation again everything seems to be stable with no changes planned aside from the proposals I have previously mentioned and once confirmed will go into a further detail.
So I’ll do a brief recap on what the Scottish Association of landlords and the Scottish government have been advising.
Scotland has moved out of the levels system. Everyone should continue to act carefully and remain cautious.
Working from home
The removal of restrictions more generally means that people who have been able to work remotely can begin to return to their office or other place of work. However, working from home, where appropriate and possible, will continue to be an important mitigation for controlling the virus as it reduces the movement and interaction of a lot of people on a regular basis, the conditions in which the virus transmits.
Where practical, the Scottish Government is encouraging employers to facilitate flexible working practices based on discussions with their staff where appropriate. This may mean more of a hybrid approach to work, allowing both home and office-based working.
The Glasgow Property Letting team are still working remotely, but we are visiting the office every other day to collect keys and mail while keeping in touch with each other at least once a day through zoom, facetime and teams.
All normal landlord/letting agent activities continue to be permitted including property inspections, viewings, move ins, move outs and safety checks.
It is recommended that viewings continue to take place virtually in the first instance and that physical viewings are restricted to appointment only, avoiding open house viewings.
Property visits to occupied properties can take place provided that the occupants of the house and those visiting the property are well and are not showing coronavirus symptoms and there is no one in the household who is self-isolating. Anyone entering a tenant’s home is recommended to observe social distancing, use appropriate and proportionate protective equipment, and follow the guidance on sanitation.
Covid-19 changes to eviction procedures
At the start of the pandemic the Scottish Government introduced legislation making all evictions discretionary and, in most cases, requiring landlords to give tenants six months’ notice. These requirements commenced on 7 April 2020.
In June 2021 the Scottish Parliament approved further legislation which continues these changes to evictions until 31 March 2022 (with an option for a further extension to 30 September 2022).
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.
Important change to rent arrears evictions – 1 October 2020
As a result of changes to legislation, any landlords applying to the First-tier Tribunal to evict their tenants for rent arrears need to be able to demonstrate that they have complied with new pre-action requirements. This change has been introduced to assist tenants suffering financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and applies to any tribunal applications raised for rent arrears from 6 October 2020 where notice was served on or after 7 April 2020. Before applying to the tribunal landlords must:
1. Provide to the tenant clear information relating to:
(a) the terms of the tenancy agreement,
(b) the amount of rent for which the tenant is in arrears,
(c) the tenant’s rights in relation to proceedings for eviction (including the pre-action requirements set out in this regulation), and
(d) how the tenant may access information and advice on financial support and debt management.
2. Make reasonable efforts to agree with the tenant a reasonable plan to make payments to the landlord of:
(a) future payments of rent, and
(b) the rent for which the tenant is in arrears.
3. Give reasonable consideration to:
(a) any steps being taken by the tenant which may affect the ability of the tenant to make payment to the landlord of the rent arrears within a reasonable time,
(b) the extent to which the tenant has complied with the terms of any payment plan agreed, and
(c) any changes to the tenant’s circumstances which are likely to impact on the extent to which the tenant complies with the terms of any payment plan agreed.
I am sure that before September there will be changes, and I will keep you informed.
In my nature I tenant to live in the moment, although with age and experience I have come to understand the quote
“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt
with that understanding I realise that looking back on the past can help shape how things will be going forward and we may not be doing physical inspections as quickly as the government guidance allows and still having tenants video call with walk throughs and we may not be back in the office full time, but I am so conscious and painfully aware that the coronavirus is still with us and I am sure you would agree that limiting the possible spread is vital.
Take care and stay safe
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0141 221 3990
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