A Renting Bill in Scotland, which aims to strengthen tenants’ rights, will make it much harder to evict anti-social tenants, if the new rules are adopted, according to landlord and letting agent groups.
Letting agents and landlord groups in Scotland have made know their concerns about the new measures in the Scottish Government’s Private Housing (Tenancies) Bill.
If the proposals in the Bill are passed into law in the Scottish Parliament, a new type of tenancy agreement will mean that landlords will no longer be in a position to ask tenants to leave at the end of a tenancy’s fixed-term.
Instead, there will be 16 specified grounds restricting options to claim possession – the current no-fault eviction process will be abolished.
Landlord and agents will be put in a position where they need to justify the reasons why they need to obtain possession.
Housing minister Margaret Burgess has said of the Bill:
“The changes outlined in this Bill will give tenants greater security and stability in their home and community.
“It will also give landlords reassurance that their tenants will treat their property as a long-term home, rather than somewhere temporary.
“The private rented sector is changing. It is now home to a growing number of people in Scotland, and we recognise there are some areas where rents are increasing significantly. It is right and responsible to give local authorities the ability to introduce rent controls in order to ease areas under pressure.
“The range of measures brought forward under this bill will ensure the private rented sector is better managed, simplified and successful, and creates a system that works for everyone.”
The new grounds for possession proposed in the Bill:
- Landlord intends to sell.
- Property to be sold by lender.
- Landlord intends to refurbish.
- Landlord or family member intends to live in property.
- Landlord intends to use for non-residential purpose.
- Property required for religious purpose.
- No longer an employee.
- No longer a student (staying in student accommodation).
- Not occupying let property.
- Breach of tenancy agreement.
- Rent arrears.
- Criminal behaviour.
- Anti-social behaviour.
- Landlord has ceased to be registered.
- HMO licence has been revoked.
- Overcrowding statutory notice.
However, not everyone entirely agrees with these proposed measures, which are supported by the likes of housing charities Shelter and Crisis, but many experienced landlords and letting agents say are flawed and that they are “deeply concerned” about this.
If the Bill is passed, when a tenant fails to leave a property after being served notice, the landlord will need to apply to a property tribunal to justify why they need to have them evicted.
56 letting agents representing the landlords of 16,620 properties have now signed a statement objecting to the proposals. Their statement says:
“Landlords are concerned that, in future, neighbours who complain about antisocial behaviour in a property would be forced to make an official complaint and be willing to give public evidence to a tribunal before any action can be taken to remove a tenant.”
John Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords, has said:
“The people often most affected by antisocial behaviour are those in vulnerable groups such as older people who could feel threatened by a neighbour.
“They may be less likely to publicly complain, let alone be willing to take part in what is a formal legal process.
“These people would in future have to suffer in silence and our landlords would be powerless to help.”
The letting agent signatories to this statement urged the Scottish Government to revise their plans to “remove the right of a landlord to allow a tenancy to come to a natural end”.
In response a Scottish Government spokesman has said:
“The new Private Housing (Tenancies) Bill provides new grounds to evict tenants that engage in antisocial behaviour or have a relevant criminal conviction so landlords will be able to use this to deal with antisocial behaviour if necessary.
“Landlords are also able to include a range of evidence in their application to the tribunal, including their own testimony and from the police.
“The bill will introduce a modern tenancy to make it a more professionally managed and better regulated sector that provides good quality homes and is attractive to those who want to live, work and invest in it.”
Concerns Evicting Anti-Social Tenants in Scotland – https://t.co/9djDpChJBb
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) November 9, 2015