On 7 April 2020 the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 came into force. It changed the notice period commercial landlords had to give to their tenants before they could terminate the lease for arrears from 14 days to 14 weeks. 

The provision introducing this 14 week period is due to expire on 30 September 2020. The Scottish Government has, however, now published draft regulations extending the 14 week period to 31 March 2021. Whilst formal effect is still to be given to these regulations, it's all but certain that these will come into force on 29 September 2020.

The 'Code of Practice' for commercial property relationships during the COVID-19 pandemic (which applies until 24 June 2021) also expects landlords and tenants to behave to arrive at mutually acceptable rental deferments, holidays, reductions and lease restructuring. Extending the 14 week period to 31 March 2021 is felt to be consistent with that approach.

So whilst landlords will need to adhere to the 14 week period before a lease can be terminated until at least the end of March 2021, it must be remembered that a landlord's right to serve pre-irritancy warning notices has not been removed. If sums remain outstanding after the expiry of a pre-irritancy warning notice, it remains competent for landlords to bring a lease to an end. This is something that both landlords and tenants must bear in mind during any negotiations.

Contributor

David Ford

Associate & Solicitor Advocate