Dear all,

We have not received the official guidance from the Scottish Government yet with regards to how the change in tier affects the letting industry.
Those that keep a watchful eye on the Government website know that the private rented sector guidance has not changed since the 13th October, so it will be business as usual, or business as the usual new normal allows.

In our daily Glasgow Property Letting team chat we were having a discussion about when landlord registration Scotland first became a legal requirement. April 2006, was the date and the registration if to be renewed every 3 years. There are now fines if you do not re register on time.
Your landlord registration number is on your landlord statement and I suggest you go to the website to check that you are still registered.
if you have your log in details log in, check your renewal date and renew in plenty of time.
Unfortunately, we cannot do this for you. If you check your emails from landlord registration Scotland there may be a date for renewal there.
If your landlord registration number is NOT of your landlord statement can you please resend it.

Last week’s open zoom room was quite good. I had a few landlords drop in and after the initial conversations about work areas, guitars and technology, I hope the landlords who dropped in with their questions about statements, invoices and the market all left the room happy.

We did not have two separate landlords in the Zoom room at once, I think if that happened, I would need to place someone in the Virtual waiting room for a minute or so.
All an exciting learning curve.
The link the todays room is at the bottom of the email.

One question I was asked a couple of times was a very practical one, especially during the pandemic. I have used the information from the Scottish association of landlords and as we have landlords with different levels of involvment with a tenancy, the tenses are general

Death of a tenant

Unfortunately landlords occasionally have to deal with the death of a tenant.

If there is a concern that a tenant may have died in the property. What should be done ?

Contact the local police station and explain the reasons for your concern. It is likely that they will visit the property to investigate, and the office set of keys may be used to access the property.

If you have the misfortune of discovering the tenant has died when visiting the property yourself, you should leave the property straight away without disturbing anything and immediately contact the police.

What will the police do after a death at the property?

The police will treat the death as suspicious until such time as criminal activity is ruled out. This will mean that you will not be able to access the property until they give the go ahead. Usually their investigations quickly conclude that no crime has been committed but in the unlikely event that the cause of death is believed to be suspicious, you may not be able to access the property for several weeks or even months. It is unlikely that you will receive compensation for loss of rent during this time period but you may have cover for this through your buildings insurance policy.

What happens to the tenancy?

If the deceased tenant was the only person named on the lease then the tenancy will end as at the date of death. The tenant’s rent liability therefore ends at the date of death.
If the tenancy is in joint names then the tenancy will continue with the surviving tenant
responsible for all the terms of the tenancy.
Under some circumstances people who were living with the tenant at the property but were
not named on the lease are entitled to succeed to the tenancy on the death of the tenant.

Under an assured or short assured tenancy this is the case if the person was the husband, wife or civil partner of the tenant or if they were living with the tenant as husband, wife or civil partner. If a tenant dies while they are the only tenant under a private residential tenancy, a partner, family member or carer can inherit their tenancy under certain conditions, as long as the tenant did not inherit the tenancy from someone else in the first place.

Can I apply for deductions from the deposit for cleaning, rent arrears etc?

Yes, if the deceased was the only tenant and the tenancy has therefore ended, you can apply to the deposit scheme for deductions from the deposit in the usual way. You should notify the deposit scheme that the tenant has died and give them details of the tenant’s executor or next of kin (if known). The usual procedures and time frames will apply before the deposit is paid out.

If I receive benefit payments towards the rent payments do I need to do anything?

Yes, you should contact the local authority (if you are paid Local Housing Allowance) or the Department for Work and Pensions (if you are paid Universal Credit) and notify them of the death of the tenant.

How do I arrange for the tenant’s possessions to be removed from the property?

If the tenant had a will then it should contain details of the executor who will deal with their affairs and administer their will. You should contact the executor to arrange for the tenant’s possessions to be removed from the property.
If the tenant did not have a will, any furniture or other belongings of the tenant automatically pass to the next of kin. The next of kin has responsibility for removing any belongings from the property.

How quickly can I expect the tenant’s possessions to be removed from the property?

When family members or an executor are arranging for the property to be cleared you should clearly tell them by what date the property should be emptied. There is no set timeframe for this but you should aim to give them a reasonable amount of time. It is important not to take any payments of rent offered by the executor or family as it could be argued that this creates a verbal tenancy in favour of the person making payment.

What should I do if I can’t identify an executor or any next of kin?

If you cannot find any relatives for your tenant, you should contact the National Ultimus HaeresHaeres Unit. The role of this organisation is to trace any living relatives of the tenant. They will carry out a short investigation at the property and may speak to neighbours to gather more information about the person.
Following this, the belongings of the tenant will be collected by a representative and held until a relative can be traced. You will be able to get rid of any items which were not taken.
However, you should only do this once you have permission in writing from the Procurator Fiscal Office.

Personally, I would find that fascinating, i like shows that trace family trees and comping from a large family, every few years we try and do it and can go back quite a few generations with some surprises and sad stories, which is all interesting. I think that when you do your own family tree it is the memories and the stories that slow you down, not the actual tracing back of the family tree.

Take care and stay safe

Muichelle & the GPL team