25 Sep 2020

An update: Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020

Extension of Notice Periods and Introduction of Pre-Action Requirements

Further to our recent blogs, the Scottish Government have now confirmed that the extended notice periods for Private Sector Tenancies which were introduced to protect tenants during the Coronavirus pandemic, will be extended until at least 31st March 2021.  The Coronavirus (Scotland) Acts (Amendment of Expiry Dates) Regulations 2020 were passed on 24th September 2020 and come into force on 29th September 2020 giving effect to this further extension. The legislation contains provision for the Government to extend this further until 30th September 2021 should that be required.

As such, any Notices served until (at least) 31st March 2020 should use the extended Notice periods. In the majority of cases that will be six months, however, from 3rd October 2020, the The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 (Eviction from Dwelling-houses) (Notice Periods) Modification Regulations 2020 will come into force, meaning a 28 day or two month notice period may apply in some cases. Our previous blog gives a summary of the notice periods for each ground and can be accessed here.

All grounds will continue to be discretionary meaning the First-tier Tribunal must also be satisfied it is reasonable to grant an Eviction order.

Further, The Government are expected to introduce the The Rent Arrears Pre-Action Requirements (Coronavirus) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 shortly thereafter, on 6th October 2020 in an attempt to offer further protection to tenants facing eviction on rent arrears grounds.

The Pre-Action Requirements include providing  tenants with clear information about the tenancy agreement, their obligation to pay rent and the extent of any arrears. Landlords will also be expected to give information to tenants on where they can obtain financial advice and attempt to agree a reasonable payment plan for repayment of the arrears before commencing Eviction proceedings. The extent to which the Pre-Action Requirements have been followed will be considered by the Tribunal when determining whether it is reasonable in all the circumstances to grant an Eviction Order.

Guidance and template letters are expected to be issued in the coming days. In cases where Notices have been served since 7 April 2020 and proceedings have not yet been raised, Landlords and Letting Agents to follow the Pre-Action Requirements shortly after they come into force in early October.

If you require any further information or advice, please contact Rory Cowan.