As we have reported previously, the Scottish Government has published a Coronavirus Recovery and Reform (Scotland) Bill which seeks to make permanent some of the changes introduced through emergency powers at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, namely:
- The requirement for the tribunal to exercise discretion when deciding whether to grant an eviction
- The requirement for landlords to comply with pre-action requirements when evicting a tenant on the grounds of rent arrears.
This legislation was approved by politicians on 28 June and will come into force on 1 October 2022 meaning that these measures, which have already been in place since April 2020, will now continue long term.
The majority of tenancies end without the need to apply to the tribunal for an eviction order so members should be reassured that discretionary evictions will only affect a small proportion of cases where tenants don’t vacate at the end of the notice period.
Throughout the progress of the bill SAL and other organisations have been very vocal in raising concerns about the many unintended consequences of these measures. A joint briefing paper with Scottish Land & Estates, NFU Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland was shared with MSPs setting out our concerns and this was referenced by the Scottish Conservatives in the parliamentary debate on 28 June. Our concerns also generated widespread publicity in the press including:
Scottish Business Insider – Provision of rented homes could be ‘decimated’ by Holyrood legislation
Landlord Zone – Landlords urge MSPs to think again before landmark eviction vote
Letting Agent Today – New regulations could “devastate” rental supply – warning
Daily Business – Landlords say tribunal plan will reduce homes for rent
A Scottish Labour amendment to the bill to introduce a 30 month rent freeze was rejected by MSPs, but the government did reiterate its commitment to implement an effective national system of rent controls during this session of Parliament.