Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) is calling for a ban on landlords who evict tenants illegally as part of a strategy to clean up the private rented sector.
Landlords can only be included on Scotland's landlord register if they pass a council's fit and proper person test '� and could fail if they have discriminated against a tenant, harassed or illegally evicted someone '� but having a previous criminal conviction does not guarantee someone will fail the test, according to Shelter Scotland.
CAS also wants the government to introduce mandatory training for landlords before they can register, along with harsher penalties including fines if they continue to let out a property without doing this training, as well as paying damages.
It believes there should be better data collection on illegal evictions to improve enforcement and that local authorities should review their homelessness procedures to develop a consistent approach.
The group's analysis suggests there was no notable drop in demand for advice on harassment and illegal evictions during the pandemic despite legal protections in place at the time.
Last month, the Scottish government announced that a rent cap and a ban on evictions would remain until this September.
CAS social justice spokesperson, Aoife Deery (main picture), says bad landlords who engage in harassment or illegal eviction cast a shadow over the whole sector.
'That is why mandatory training and tougher penalties like bans or fines for rogue landlords should be considered as part of any forthcoming Housing Bill,'� she adds.
'Not enough people know about their rights when it comes to the difference between a legal and illegal eviction. Challenging this practice is often difficult, especially when faced with threats to safety. The system needs to be more robust to empower tenants and local authorities to take swift action against illegal evictions.'�