Tenant Notice periods return to pre-COVID lengths
The Scottish Government has announced that from the 31st March 2022, landlords will no longer need to serve 6 months notice to bring a tenancy to an end.
The 6 month notice rule was introduced by the Scottish Government as part of a number of emergency laws that were introduced into the Scottish Private Rented Sector in 2020 as a response designed to help make the rental sector more stable during the upheaval that the COVID pandemic caused on the market.
The Scottish Government had explored making the 6 month notice rule permanent as part of their agenda to create a New Deal for Tenants, but the evidence shows that this particular rule change has not been good for the sector.
The Scottish Association of Landlords presented evidence to the Government showing that, due to the extended notice periods, some tenants were racking up rent arrears that they remain liable for and could never afford to repay resulting in a situation that is bad for everyone.
The rolling back of notice periods to the pre-pandemic rules (where landlords serve either 1 or 3 months notice on tenants depending on the circumstances) is very good news for the sector as there is a chronic shortage of new landlords and rental properties which is having an extremely negative impact on the number of available properties in the market. This in turn is heating the market and driving asking rents up as more and more prospective tenants compete for fewer and fewer properties.
The government also announced this week that the temporary downgrading of compulsory grounds for repossession to discretionary, which was part of the same emergency laws introduced in 2020, will continue until September 2022. This shouldn’t affect most cases for repossession as long as landlords can demonstrate a strong enough case for taking back possession of their properties under one of the grounds for doing so.
The Scottish Government is currently considering the simple measure of restricting rent levels on the market, but the evidence shows that a change like this would have a negative impact on the number of landlords and properties in the market, exacerbating many of the issues the government are trying to address.
It’s a critical time for the PRS with the Scottish Government considering some radical new legislation in addressing problems that are created from a lack of enough quality housing. This week’s news on abandoning 6 month notice periods is welcome as it will make becoming a landlord a less risky option. It is hopefully a sign that the Scottish Government are starting to grasp the wider negative consequences of their well-meaning policies.