The lockdown has caused a mass lay-off of workers and a crisis of rent arrears. Landlords are still pursuing tenants for rent and many are pressuring tenants to leave their homes. The following questions should clarify the current eviction process in the Private Rented Sector. Remember that you do not have to leave your home just because your landlords wants you to.
Living Rent are here to support in resisting eviction and keeping your home.
When can I be served an eviction notice?
- Your landlord can serve you an eviction notice, also known as a Section 50, notice to leave or notice to quit, only if they believe one or more of the grounds for eviction applies. Links to the relevant grounds for eviction are available at the bottom of this page.
How is the eviction notice served?
- Usually, an eviction notice must be served by post to the tenant’s residence. However, under new legislation in the Coronavirus Act 2020, an eviction notice can now be delivered electronically, for example via email. The landlord is required to assume a 48 hour period for the tenant to receive and acknowledge this notice.
Does the eviction notice mean I have to leave?
- No, the eviction notice gives you a date on which the landlord can apply for an eviction order. The notice is basically a date, but you are not obliged to move until the landlord has been granted an eviction order. Living Rent Member Defence teams can support you to reverse the eviction before this date by getting your landlord to listen to you, and after this date by supporting you through the tribunal and if the landlord gets an eviction order.
My landlord is threatening me with eviction, what do I do?
- Your landlord can only formally pursue an eviction if they have sent you, via post or email, an eviction notice stating the legal ground(s) for eviction that they will use to evict you.
- If they are threatening you, contact a Living Rent member defence team via [email protected]
What is the difference between an eviction notice and an eviction order?
- The eviction notice is a letter or email delivered by your landlord stating the ground(s) of eviction they wish to use to evict you. However, the eviction notice is not the same as an eviction order. An eviction order can only be given by the court at a First-tier tribunal after your case has been heard. You can fight an eviction notice and until at least the 31st of March 2021, no eviction orders can be enforced.
What has changed in the eviction process since the Covid-19 Crisis?
Under a new Coronavirus Scotland Act which came into effect on 7th April 2020, there are changes to the eviction process that could affect you if you receive an eviction notice between the 7th April 2020 and September 2021.
Firstly, the period between receiving an eviction notice and the case being taken to tribunal has been extended to 3 months or 6 months, depending on the grounds used (see our list of the grounds for eviction and their corresponding notice lengths in the private rented sector below). Exceptions to these delays are eviction notices under ground 10 (Tenant is not occupying the property) and grounds 13, 14, 15 (relating to anti-social behaviour or criminal record) which require 28 days notice and grounds 4 and 5 (Landlord or landlord's family intends to live in the property.)
All the grounds for eviction (e.g. Landlord intends to move into property) have gone from mandatory to discretionary, meaning that the Tribunal will have to look at other evidence surrounding an eviction, other than for example just the fact that the landlord wants to move in. This means eviction are worth fighting against before and during Tribunal.
What if my landlord already has an eviction order from the Tribunal?
- Until September 2021 there is a full eviction ban in level three and four areas, meaning no eviction orders can be delivered or enforced by sheriff officers. This means that it is an illegal offence for a landlord or sheriff officer to deliver a 'Charge for Removal' (given after an eviction order) or enforce an eviction until at least 31st March 2021. This applies to all rented tenancies in level 3 or above.
- If you live in a level 2 area or below, then the landlord can legally instruct a sheriff officer to deliver and carry out an eviction order.
If the landlord is threatening to evict because they have a eviction order, get in contact with Living Rent via [email protected]
I am a social tenant, does this apply to me?
- The main change for social tenants is the notice period required before the landlord can go to Tribunal to apply for an eviction order. These have almost all been extended to 3 months or 6 months (apart from ground 10: Tenant is not occupying the property which requires 28 days notice, see our list for the grounds for eviction and their corresponding notice lengths in the social rented sector below). This will apply to you if you have received an eviction notice on or after the 7th April 2020.
- The eviction ban from 11th December 2020 until September 2021 in level three and four areas also applies to social tenants.
What is a tribunal?
- A tribunal settles disputes in the private rented sector. They will hear your case and decide whether or not to grant an order of eviction. Though the tribunals often act in favour of landlords and letting agents, Living Rent Member Defence teams will support you to try and reverse an eviction before it reaches the tribunal stage by using coordinated action and pressure.
- The Tribunals are currently doing Case Management Discussions (pre-hearings) and hearings on the phone.
- See here for more detailed FAQs surrounding the tribunal process.
Will my case have to go to tribunal?
- If a private landlord still wishes to proceed with the eviction and the tenant contests it at the end of the notice period, the case will be heard in the Tribunal.
- Living Rent Member Defence teams can support in preparing for Tribunal and also challenge evictions before they reach the Tribunal. Through coordinated action we can pressure the landlord to withdraw the notice to leave/quit.
Will the impact of the Covid-19 crisis be taken into account when the Tribunal decides on whether to grant an eviction order?
Yes. While there is no express direction for taking into account the impact of Covid-19, the tribunal has a judicial duty to consider all the circumstances surrounding the case and to decide if it is reasonable to evict you in light of the effect of Covid-19 on yourself and your landlord. However, this does not mean that you are categorically exempt from eviction if you can prove you have been affected by Covid-19, only that this will be taken into consideration.
- Living Rent Member Defence teams can support in signposting and preparing tenants for Tribunal cases and organise supporting actions outside the Tribunal on the day of the hearing.
What happens if I received my eviction notice before the 7th April 2020?
- If you received an eviction notice from your landlord before the 7th April 2020, the new considerations of Covid-19 and the legal changes of the 2020 Act do not apply to your case and you could still be evicted under the previous 2016 Act.
- This is unless you live in a level three or four Covid restriction area
Are the Tribunals hearing cases now?
Yes, though there are some delays due to a backlog of cases
What happens if my landlord is trying to evict me for rent arrears built up as a direct result of the Covid-19 crisis?
You, the tenant, must be in rent arrears for 3 consecutive months to warrant a notice for eviction. If you have been in rent arrears for less than time than this, you cannot be evicted due to arrears. If your arrears are due to the failure or delayed payment of a relevant benefit, such as Universal Credit and Discretionary Housing Payment, this will not apply. If this is the case, you must be able to prove you have applied for this benefit.
- If you have been in arrears for 3 consecutive months, the period between the date of your landlord sending you an eviction notice and the date when your landlord can then apply to take your case to tribunal has to be at least 6 months (until September 2021). Therefore, if you have fallen into rent arrears, you cannot be served an eviction order by a court for at least 6 months from the date that you receive the eviction letter.
What happens if my case goes to tribunal and the court grants the eviction order?
- The landlord has the right to employ sheriff officers to evict you from the property. First they need to issue you a 'Charge for Removal' which tells you the date that the eviction will take place, the standard amount of notice of this document, delivered by a sheriff officer is 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, the sheriff officer is legally allowed to physically remove you from your home.
- However they cannot serve the Charge for Removal or enforce the eviction in level three and four areas until September 2021. Before that, Living Rent Member Defence teams may be able to support you to resist the eviction.
List of the grounds for eviction and their corresponding notice lengths for tenants on Private Residential Tenancies (lease started post-2017) in the private rented sector: here.
List of the grounds for eviction and their corresponding notice lengths for tenants on Assured Tenancies (lease started pre-2018) in the private rented sector: here and for Short Assured Tenancies: here.
List of the grounds for eviction and their corresponding notice lengths in the social rented sector: here.
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