A leading Scottish estate agent has urged the government to give landlords more certainty over recovering their properties via eviction – or risk prompting a rush to sell up.
Ahead of a debate on the Coronavirus Recovery and Reform (Scotland) Bill, Niall Stringer (main picture), land and property partner at Turcan Connell, says significant permanent changes to the law governing short assured tenancies (SAT) and private residential tenancies (PRT) seem certain, which will make it harder to obtain vacant possession.
Similar to England’s Section 21 debate, Scotland wants to reform how landlords can evict tenants.
Its Bill proposes the abolition of mandatory grounds for recovery of a let property. Where a tenant does not leave voluntarily after being served notice, it would go to tribunal; for SATs the court will need to address that it is “reasonable to make an order for possession”, and for PRTs that it is “reasonable to issue an eviction order on account of those facts”.
Writing in The Scotsman, Stringer says it seems that changes to tenancies will apply to all existing SATs.
“If so, legislation which afforded tenants security of tenure for agreed periods of time while giving landlords the comfort that they could recover the property at the end of the tenancy, will be replaced by legislation which gives little certainty to either party.”
Less than 2% of eviction applications in the last year have been refused on the test of reasonableness, he says. “Perhaps most landlords, despite rumours to the contrary, are reasonable, only seeking to take the most extreme action available to them when there is no other recourse.”
Stringer adds that there is irony and tension in the proposed legislation. “If it is seen as being so skewed for the benefit of one side, it could end up causing the very asset which is helping address the housing crisis being lost to the rental market as private landlords sell up.”
Stringer is not alone in his criticism of the renting reform bill. Three key organisations in the country have written to its government with dire warnings for its consequences. These are Scottish Land & Estates, the Scottish Association of Landlords and NFU Scotland, all of whom say tenancy proposals contained within the Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) (Scotland) Bill ‘could lead to thousands of homes being lost to the rental market’.
Propertymark also recently challenged the bill’s eviction proposals.