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Thursday, 22nd October, 2020

Pre-Action Requirements to be met before recovering property on rent arrears

The Scottish Government has issued Pre-Action Requirement Regulations for all applications made to the First-Tier Tribunal for Scotland on or after 6 October 2020 for an eviction order on the grounds of rent arrears, which has occurred during the COVID-19 period.
Agents who are raising proceedings will have to evidence that the Rent Arrears Pre-Action Requirements (Coronavirus) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 have been met for the tribunal to consider if issuing an eviction order is reasonable.
The Regulations affect all Assured, Short Assured, and PRT’s, and the 6 October commencement date means that any Notice to Leave or Notice to Quit issued from 7 April 2020 will be captured by these Regulations.
The Regulations are reasonably simple in their format with three key points that must be followed.
1. Provide the tenant with clear information (which can be in writing or email) relating to:
the terms of the tenancy agreement
the amount of rent for which the tenant is in arrears
the tenant’s rights in relation to proceedings for possession of a house (including the pre-action requirements set out in this regulation)
how the tenant may access information and advice on financial support and debt management
2. Make reasonable efforts to agree on a reasonable plan with the tenant to make payments to the landlord of:
future payments of rent
the rent for which the tenant is in arrears
3. Give reasonable consideration to:
any steps being taken by the tenant which may affect their ability to make payment to the landlord of the rent for which they are in arrears within a reasonable time
the extent to which the tenant has complied with the terms of any plan agreed
any changes to the tenant’s circumstances which are likely to impact on the extent to which the tenant complies with the terms of a plan agreed to
The Scottish Government is expecting landlords to be flexible with any tenants facing financial difficulties and to signpost them to the sources of financial support available. The objective is to encourage sustainment of tenancies by ensuring that, prior to seeking repossession of property on the grounds of rent arrears, landlords make reasonable efforts to work with tenants to manage arrears.
A guidance document will be published shortly, which will have template letters that can be tailored to send to tenants as soon as the arrears start. Plus, links to the availability of financial support for tenants to help with future rent payments and perhaps any arrears. As well as details of organisations that can provide independent support, for example, the Safe-Deposits mediation service that is free for tenants and landlords to use


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