In Part One of our Guide to Private Residential Tenancies ("PRT"s) in Scotland we looked at what PRTs are, and in Part Two we discussed key terms. This third part looks at how PRTs are brought to an end.
A PRT cannot be ended except in accordance with the provisions of the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 - any agreement between the parties which does not follow those provisions, will not end the tenancy. The provisions differ depending on whether the PRT is being ended by the landlord or the tenant.
Ending a PRT as a tenant
A tenant can end a PRT by giving their landlord 28 days' written notice. The notice must be given freely and without coercion after the tenant begins occupying the property; and it must state the day the tenancy will come to an end (which must be after the end of the minimum notice period).
The notice period begins when the notice is received - if the notice is sent by post or email (rather than delivered in person), an additional 48 hours is added to the period to allow time for delivery. If the PRT lease provides that communication is to be by email then the notice must be sent by email.
Ending a PRT as a landlord
A landlord can end a PRT by giving their tenant a notice to leave based on one of the grounds listed below.
At least 28 days' notice must be given if the tenant has lived in the property for less than 6 months, and at least 84 days' notice must be given if the tenant has lived in the property for more than 6 months, if the landlord wishes to end the tenancy for one of the following reasons:
- The landlord intends to sell the property within three months of the tenant moving out;
- The landlord's mortgage lender is to repossess and sell the property;
- The landlord intends to carry out major refurbishment works to the property disrupting the tenant's ability to occupy it;
- The landlord or a member of their family intends to live in the property;
- The landlord intends to use the property for non-residential purposes;
- The property is required for religious purposes;
- The tenant ceases to be or fails to become an employee of the landlord;
- The tenant no longer needs supported accommodation;
- The landlord has had their registration as a landlord refused or revoked;
- The landlord's HMO licence has been revoked or its renewal refused; or
- An overcrowding statutory notice has been served on the landlord.
Regardless of how long the tenant has occupied the property, a landlord must give 28 days' notice to end a tenancy for any of the following reasons:
- The tenant is no longer occupying the property;
- The tenant has breached one or more terms of the tenancy agreement;
- The tenant has been in rent arrears for over three consecutive months;
- The tenant has (or has associated with someone in the property who has) a relevant criminal conviction; or
- The tenant has (or has associated with someone in the property who has) engaged in relevant antisocial behaviour.
A notice to leave can also be given for one of three further temporary grounds, introduced as a result of the cost-of-living crisis:
- The landlord needs to sell the let property due to financial hardship;
- The landlord needs to live in the let property due to financial hardship; or
- The tenant has substantial rent arrears (i.e. rent arrears which add up to 6 months’ rent or more).
Again, 48 hours is added from the date of sending if notice is sent by post or email rather than delivered in person and checking the terms of the PRT lease is important.
A notice to leave must be correctly prepared and served in order to be valid, and it is sensible to take advice when looking to end a tenancy.
If the required notice is served by a landlord and their tenant fails to leave the property at the end of the notice period, the landlord can apply to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) (the "Tribunal") for an eviction notice.
Previously, certain grounds (such as rent arrears) formed a mandatory basis for eviction. During the Covid-19 pandemic, temporary measures were introduced which made all grounds for eviction discretionary. These temporary measures have now become permanent, and it is therefore necessary – in every case – to show the Tribunal that it would be reasonable to issue an eviction notice in the circumstances.
Further temporary measures were introduced as a result of the cost-of-living crisis, often referred to as the "eviction ban". These measures apply to eviction orders applied for since 28 October 2022 and as a result, landlords must wait for a period of 6 months before enforcing an eviction order. In certain situations, however, the ban does not apply – for example, where eviction is sought based on one of the 3 temporary grounds noted above, or where the tenant has abandoned the property or engaged in criminal or antisocial behaviour. The "ban" will come to an end on 31 March 2024.
In Part Four of this Guide, we look at the repairing standard, deposit requirements, landlord registration, letting agent registration, and houses in multiple occupation (HMO) licencing.
The legal position on points covered in this Guide is correct as at the time of writing, but this area of the law is often subject to change and taking legal advice is recommended. To check the up-to-date position, or for further information or advice, please get in touch with your usual Brodies contact.