One of the temporary measures introduced by the Scottish Government in response to the Coronavirus pandemic was pre-action requirements that landlords and agents in the private rented sector must comply with prior to seeking repossession of a property for rent arrears that have occurred during the Covid-19 period.
The Rent Arrears Pre-Action Requirements (Coronavirus) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 came into force last October in order to help landlords and tenants work together to sustain tenancies during the Coronavirus crisis. As such, letting agents and landlords must ensure they engage with tenants who fall behind on their rent and offer them advice and assistance so that evictions can be avoided wherever possible. Documenting such correspondence is vitally important as it will be considered by the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) as part of their discretion in deciding whether to grant an eviction order.
As the Scottish Government is now considering making these, as well as some other temporary provisions made under the Scottish and UK Coronavirus legislation permanent, a public consultation has been launched.
The public can share their views on the proposals set out in the consultation, as well as suggest any additional measures or legislation not covered in the consultation that could support Scotland’s recovery, until November 9.
Working together through rent arrears
Welcoming the intention to make the Pre-Action Requirements permanent, Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: “These protections can give private tenants more time and support to work through rent arrears.
“We know that the best way to end homelessness is to prevent it happening in the first place. That means offering people who face the prospect of losing their home help at an early stage and for public services and landlords to work together to provide the assistance they need.”
Deputy First Minister and Covid Recovery Secretary, John Swinney, commented: “This consultation focuses on reviewing the legislative powers that have supported our response to Covid-19. We want to ensure we remove measures no longer needed in order to respond to the pandemic whilst keeping those where there is demonstrable benefit to the people of Scotland.
He added: “I invite everyone to have their say on what the future should look like to support a fair, safe and secure recovery. Your views on these proposals will inform any future legislation to be brought forward on these topics for full scrutiny and debate in Parliament.”