As of the 1 April 2024, the temporary eviction protections instituted by the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Act 2022 will be lifted, marking a transition in tenant-landlord relations. In this blog, we consider the eviction process, the outgoing regulations, the incoming end of the eviction moratorium, and insights into the impact on tenants and landlords.

Background on Eviction Process

As background, the eviction process in Scotland includes three key steps:

  1. Notice to Leave: Landlords may serve a notice to leave to tenants, initiating the eviction process.
  2. Application to Tribunal or Court: If the notice to leave is not complied with, landlords may proceed by making an application to the Tribunal or Sheriff Court for eviction. The Tribunal or Court will assess the case and make a decision on whether to issue an eviction order or decree.
  3. Enforcement of Eviction Order: As the final step, once an eviction order or decree is obtained, landlords may proceed with the final steps of eviction. Sheriff Officers enforce these evictions by issuing notices of removal.

Outgoing Law regarding Eviction Moratorium

A moratorium on evictions has been in place from 6 September 2022 until the 31 March 2024, applying to tenants in the private and social rented sectors, as well as student accommodation. While the moratorium was in place, landlords were able to serve tenants with notices to end tenancy, and if the tenants fail to vacate, still apply for an eviction order. However, the moratorium pauses the enforcement of eviction orders by Sheriff Officers for up to six months. The eviction moratorium does not apply in cases where tenants have substantial rent arrears, engaged in or have associated with antisocial or criminal behaviour, abandoned the property, or are evicted because they are no longer employed by the landlord.

Additionally, private rents have been subject to a cap of either 3%, or 6% for exceptional circumstances. The rent cap legislation will be lifted on 1 April 2024. For further information on the rent adjudication process, this previous blog post details the Scottish Government's proposals for the transition out of the emergency measure.

Incoming Cessation of Eviction Moratorium

From 1 April 2024, the eviction moratorium will end. Eviction proceedings, paused under the Cost of Living Act, can recommence. Landlords, upon securing an eviction order or decree from the Tribunal or Court, may initiate the final steps to evict tenants. Sheriff Officers will resume their role in evictions, issuing notices of removal typically requiring the tenant to vacate the property within 14 days after the tenant's receipt of the notice.

Insights into the Change

For Tenants:

Evictions: Tenants facing eviction orders or decrees, previously suspended under the Cost of Living Act, should brace for potential enforcement post-1 April 2024. Awareness of eviction procedures and engagement with legal resources can facilitate navigation through this transition. Furthermore, local authorities are legally obligated to assist individuals at risk of homelessness, providing guidance and temporary accommodations to mitigate adverse outcomes.

Unlawful Eviction Damages: Applications for damages due to unlawful eviction, filed during the emergency measures, will continue to be assessed based on a multiplication of monthly rent. However, new claims post-1 April 2024, will adhere to the pre-existing legal frameworks.

For Landlords:

Notices to Leave and Applications for Eviction: Notices served on tenants during the Cost of Living Act's tenure remain valid post-1 April 2024. Similarly, pending eviction applications will not encounter further delays under the Act. This also applies to social sector landlords.

Evictions: From 1 April 2024, landlords can proceed with the enforcement of eviction orders which had previously been paused. Transparent communication with tenants regarding impending changes is recommended.

If you have any queries about this case, or eviction and housing support more generally, get in touch with Fiona McLeod or your usual Brodies contact.

Contributors

Fiona McLeod

Legal Director

Sarah Keir

Trainee Solicitor