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17 August, 2021 Open access

Scottish Government sets out proposals to continue Covid-related tenancy protection measures in new consultation on its Covid Recovery policy

Intention is to enact, on a permanent basis, provisions in Scottish Coronavirus Acts relating to pre-action protocols and Tribunal discretion to consider all matters relating to eviction cases

The Scottish Government has set out proposals to continue certain Covid-related tenancy protection measures in a new consultation on its Covid recovery policy.

In Covid Recovery A consultation on public services, the justice system and other reforms, published today, the Scottish Government focuses on reviewing the legislative powers that have supported its response to Covid, and sets out proposals to continue some of the measures from the First and Second Scottish Coronavirus Acts (the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 and the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020) and the UK Coronavirus Act 2020 beyond their current end dates, saying that -

‘These are the measures that are clearly showing a benefit … We want to capture the good practice that has helped people during the pandemic, for example where moving to improved digital services, or the use of technology, has increased access to services and made them simpler and easier for service users. In other cases, the Scottish Government considers that there is a case for longer extension of some temporary justice system measures than has been provided for in the Extension and Expiry Act, to deal with backlogs that have unavoidably built up during the pandemic.’

In relation to Covid-related housing measures, the consultation advises that -

‘The intention is to ensure the continuance of the provisions which provide the First-tier Tribunal (Housing and Property Chamber with discretion to consider all matters relating to eviction cases going before them (Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020, schedule 1) and also provisions that set out pre-action requirements for orders for possession or eviction orders on the ground of rent arrears (Coronavirus (Scottish) (No.2) Act 2020, schedule 1, Part 2).'

NB - the new provision in relation to discretion amends the previous rules - applying when eviction was sought on certain grounds such as when a tenant under a private residential tenancy had been in rent arrears for at least three consecutive months and owed at least one month’s rent on the day of the Tribunal hearing - that operated so that the Tribunal was obliged to grant an eviction order if satisfied that the eviction ground applied.

In addition, the Scottish Government advises that it plans to enact the pre-action protocol and Tribunal discretion provisions on a permanent basis. However, it also says it intends to bring forward further housing legislation in this parliamentary term to provide an opportunity to further refine these provisions if required.

The consultation is open until 9 November 2021.

For more information, see chapter 3 of Covid Recovery A consultation on public services, justice system and other reforms from gov.scot