Thursday, 4 February 2016

Scottish Government fail Scotland’s private sector tenants

Scottish private sector tenants are to be given less security of tenure than they enjoyed in Scotland under Mrs Thatcher’s Government from 1988.  The Scottish Government’s response to the Parliament’s ICI Committee report on the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill - published today[1] – will guarantee landlords an à la carte menu of mandatory eviction grounds to get rid of tenants.

The stated aim of the Bill was to provide “a clearer and simpler tenancy regime for the modern private rented sector which is fit for purpose”.  The Parliament’s Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee had asked the Government to give more thought to which eviction grounds should be mandatory and how much discretion should be given to the new Housing Tribunal in deciding whether to evict or not.

The Scottish Government has responded by endorsing its own view that landlords should be able to evict tenants at will. It has refused to budge on giving landlords a guaranteed right to remove a tenant from his or her home whenever they intend to sell, refurbish, move a member of their family in, or use the property for non-residential use.

On behalf of Govan Law Centre, Mike Dailly, Solicitor Advocate said:  “The Scottish Government are determined to give Scottish private tenants a zero hours contract on their home with no security of tenure in practice. This will create a moral hazard in the same way we had bankers spending other people’s money without a care in the world. Private landlords will be able to run their businesses in the comfortable knowledge that taxpayers will bail them out. Landlords will be entitled to remove their tenant out at will, with local authorities picking up the tab under homelessness law. It’s truly shameful, unjust and regressive”.

“What we will see in Scotland is evictions where landlords ‘intend’ to move in a member of their family, put the property on the market for sale, refurbish or stop letting. These intentions will guarantee the automatic eviction of tenants, but we all know most of these intentions will never materialise. In over twenty years as a housing law practitioner I have never seen such badly drafted, ill-advised and unjust grounds of eviction in legislation”.

“We had really hoped the Scottish Government would have listened to the advice of the Scottish Parliament’s Committee, which had carefully considered evidence from a wide range of tenant bodies, homelessness charities and advice agencies, and cautioned against these mandatory grounds of eviction. Sadly they have sided with the interests of private landlords; and of which many elected members are”.


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