Propertymark is questioning whether the Scottish Government is adequately funding the First-tier Tribunal to cope with any extra demand placed on it by a new possessions process.
The Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) Bill will complete its passage through the Scottish Parliament this week and so far all attempts to retain mandatory grounds for possession have been ignored by ministers.
If it passes, the Bill will mean that from October every possession claim will continue to be subject to the judgement of the First-tier Tribunal, and an order will only be granted where the tribunal agrees the ground exists.
All 18 grounds are currently temporarily discretionary as part of measures brought in to protect tenants during the pandemic.
Propertymark is warning any delay to tribunal cases will reduce confidence in the possessions procedure and negatively impact investment from landlords and lenders, meaning less properties available to rent.
Daryl McIntosh, Propertymark’s policy manager for the UK devolved nations, says: “We’re dismayed by the Scottish Government’s disregard for industry expertise and evidence in their progression of the Bill and its permanent removal of mandatory grounds for possession.
“We would also question whether the Scottish Government has adequately considered the full costs of removing mandatory grounds, given that no attempt appears to have been made to account for much of FTT’s operational costs that are, by the Scottish Government’s own admission, difficult to quantify.
“With inevitable increases in overall casework, pressure on scheduling and multiple case management discussions required per application, it is astounding that the full costs – and their impact on application timescales – have not been properly examined.
“Far from creating an environment that would instil confidence and boost investment to ensure a sufficient supply of homes in the privae rented market, this change represents a backward step that will see reduced investment, less choice for tenants and more pressure on the social housing sector.”
Earlier this week a group of landlord bodies north of the border united to express their concern that the Bill, if passed, could damage the whole industry.
The Scottish Association of Landlords, NFU Scotland, the National Trust for Scotland and Scottish Land & Estates have warned that although the proposals are intended to offer greater protection to a very small number of tenants facing eviction, they will backfire on a far greater number of people looking to rent homes at a time when homes are in short supply.
At the height of the pandemic there was a moratorium on evictions, except in special circumstances approved by a tribunal.
The Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) Bill seeks to make this change permanent and a tribunal would be asked to rule on every instance where a landlord has legitimate reasons for ending a tenancy, including non-payment of rent.