In October 2014, the Scottish Government published its Consultation on a New Tenancy for the Private Sector, which received more than 2,500 responses. These responses came from a range of parties which included tenants, landlords, tenant-representative and landlord-representative organisations, letting agents, investors and local authorities. After analysing these responses, the Government has published a second consultation which builds upon some of the initial proposals.
Firstly, the Government is proposing to remove the no fault ground of repossession (otherwise known as the section 33 route). Currently landlords can bring a Short Assured Tenancy to an end at the ish by service of a Notice to Quit and a Section 33 Notice, giving two months notice and without the requirement to give any reasons. This option will be removed completely.
Fiona Greer of TC YoungInstead, landlords will be required to rely on grounds of repossession to bring a tenancy to an end. There are currently 17 grounds of repossession contained within Schedule 5 to the Housing (Scotland) Act 1988 and these are split into mandatory and discretionary grounds. It is proposed that the grounds will be reduced to 11 and will cover the following circumstances:
- landlord is selling the home
- the mortgage lender is selling the home
- the landlord or a family member of the landlord wants to move into the property refurbishment
- change of business use
- tenant has failed to pay the full rent for 3 consecutive months
- antisocial behaviour
- the tenant has otherwise breached the tenancy agreement
- the tenant is no longer employed by the landlord
- the property is required to house a full-time religious worker.
- The number of grounds has increased since the initial consultation which proposed only 8 grounds of repossession. Some of the grounds are mandatory (including sale of the property, mortgage repossession, tenant’s failure to pay for three consecutive months, abandonment and antisocial behaviour which has resulted in a criminal conviction).
There is also a proposal to make amendments to the service of a Notice to Quit. Firstly, a new Notice to Leave will require to be served (the contents of which will be set out in secondary legislation to follow). Where being issued by a landlord, and the tenant has been in the property for 6 months or less, the notice period shall be 28 days (4 weeks). Where the tenant has been in the property for more than 6 months, the notice period shall be 84 days (12 weeks). However, where the tenant is issuing a Notice to Leave to the landlord, when they have been in the property for longer than 6 months they will only be required to give 56 days notice (8 weeks).
Furthermore, it is proposed that where certain grounds are established, only 28 days Notice to Leave will be required to be issued to a tenant. This includes where they have failed to pay full rent over three months, have displayed antisocial behaviour or have otherwise breached their tenancy agreement. This is intended to ensure that landlords can take swift action to remove a tenant on these grounds.
The Government is also proposing to introduce a model tenancy agreement for the private rented sector, with the aim of addressing the significant disparities in quality and content of tenancy agreements currently being used. This is likely to contain both mandatory and discretionary clauses, together with a statutory guidance note which will summarise the meaning of the clauses in plain language. It is anticipated that there will be a separate consultation on this.