In December 2017, the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 introduced the 'private residential tenancy'. This type of tenancy was designed to be more secure, stable and predictable for tenants, and to provide more assurances for landlords.
All tenancies since December 2017 are private residential tenancies. The Act doesn’t affect existing tenancies, which will continue until they are ended by serving a notice to quit.
This type of tenancy puts an end to fixed term tenancies and ‘no fault’ evictions. Landlords are obliged to provide tenants with written terms and conditions, and the Scottish Government have provided a model private residential tenancy agreement for this purpose.
Other important changes affecting landlords are: greater controls on rent increases, 48 hours’ notice required for access to the property, a requirement to register as a landlord, and the protection of tenant deposits.
Importantly for eviction procedures, under a private residential tenancy:
- The tenancy is open ended.
- Eviction can only be sought based on one of 18 grounds. These include property abandonment and intention by the landlord to sell.
- Landlords must give a minimum notice period that depends on the length of time that the tenant has been in residence.
- The Notice to Quit process has been superceded by a new Notice to Leave process.
- Since fixed term tenancies have been abolished, there will no longer be “no fault” evictions.
Notice to Leave
Landlords can only end a tenancy with one of 18 grounds for eviction. They must inform the tenant of which grounds they are using with a “Notice to Leave” and supply supporting evidence. The notice will include an expected date when application for an eviction order will be made.
- The minimum notice period is 28 days if the tenant has been in occupation for less than six months, and 84 days if they have lived at the property for longer.
- In certain cases involving antisocial behaviour or three or more consecutive months of unpaid rent, the shorter notice period applies.
Legal sub tenants are protected from eviction except under certain grounds. If the head landlord wants to end the sub-tenancy, they must issue a ‘sub-tenancy notice to leave. The notice periods are the same as for the head tenant.
The 18 grounds for eviction
These are split into four categories:
- The let property is required for another purpose
- The tenant’s status means the landlord no longer wishes them to remain in the property
- The landlord wants to regain possession because of the tenant’s conduct.
- There is a legal impediment to letting the property. The landlord or property does not meet legal requirements for the let.
- They are further classified as mandatory or discretionary.
- If a mandatory ground is established by the tribunal, it will grant an eviction order regardless of the circumstances.
- The landlord intends to put the property on the market within three months of the tenant vacating.
- The mortgage lender wants to repossess the property in order to sell it.
- Refurbishment. The landlord wishes to carry out works on property that are too disruptive for the tenant to continue occupation.
- The landlord wants to occupy the property themselves.
- The landlord wishes to re-let the property for a non-residential purpose.
- When a religious worker requires the property.
- The tenant has been given a criminal conviction involving the property. That is, an offence punishable by imprisonment, for which they used the property or allowed someone to use the property, or they committed a crime within or near the property
- The tenant has vacated the property and they, or a legal sub-tenant are not using it as their main or only home.
- If it is established that a discretionary ground exists, the tribunal will issue an eviction order at its discretion.
- A family member of the landlords wants to occupy the property as their only or main home, for three months or more.
- If the tenant has been occupying under a need for supported housing, but they have been reassessed as no longer needing this support.
- A breach of the tenancy agreement.
- The tenant has behaved antisocially: by causing alarm or distress, being a nuisance or is harassment.
- Association of the tenant with someone who is behaving antisocially or who has a criminal conviction, if the behaviour of that person would result in eviction had they been the tenant.
- The landlord has had there registration with the local council refused or revoked.
- The HMO (House of Multiple Occupancy) licence for the property has been removed, hence it is no longer legal for the tenants to remain in the property.
- A statutory notice has been served on the landlord because the property is overcrowded.
Some of the grounds may be considered mandatory or discretionary:
- The tenant has not paid rent for three consecutive months or more.
- The tenancy was based on the employment of the tenant by the landlord, and the tenant is no longer their employee.
If the tenant does not leave within the notice period, the landlord can apply to the First-tier Tribunal for an eviction order. This application must be within six months of the expiration date of the notice to leave, a copy of which must be supplied to the Tribunal.