The latest regulations which have been drafted to govern private residential tenancies, as well as assured and short assured tenancies, during the COVID-19 pandemic is the Rent Arrears Pre-Action Requirements (Coronavirus) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.
Assuming these regulations are passed, landlords will be required to fulfil pre action requirements before pursuing eviction orders or orders for possession following rent arrears. The pre action requirements can be split into two categories: (1) providing tenants with information; (2) making reasonable efforts to agree a payment plan.
Landlords will be required to provide tenants with clear information relating to:
- the terms of the tenancy agreement;
- the amount of rent for which the tenant is in arrears;
- the tenant's rights in relation to the proceedings for eviction or possession; and
- how the tenant may access information and advice on financial support and debt management.
The landlord will also be required to make reasonable efforts to agree a payment plan with the tenant in relation to future rent and rent arrears. When doing so, the landlord is required to consider:
- steps taken by the tenant which may affect their ability to make payment within a reasonable time;
- the extent to which the tenant has complied with the payment plan; and
- changes to the tenant's circumstances which are likely to impact the extent to which the tenant complies with the payment plan.
If these regulations are passed, the pre action requirements will apply to actions raised on or after 6 October 2020. In such cases, the First-tier Tribunal will be required to consider whether it was reasonable for the landlord to make an order against the tenant and the extent to which the landlord has complied with the pre action requirements.