Another prominent industry voice is warning of the dangers of the Scottish Government’s new eviction policies.
So far the National Residential Landlords Association, Scottish landlord groups and ARLA Propertymark have both spoken out about the Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) Bill which was passed by the Scottish Parliament this week.
The Bill means 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 - the Bill seeks to make those measures permanent.
Now the automated rental payment specialists PayProp has warned that the Scottish Government’s plans could risk a shortage of stock on the market.
At the height of the pandemic, all grounds for eviction of a tenant in the residential rental sector, including cases of rent arrears, anti-social behaviour, or a landlord needing to sell or move into the property, were temporarily made discretionary. PayProp has come out against making this a permanent rule.
Neil Cobbold, managing director at PayProp UK, says making all grounds for eviction permanently discretionary goes against the pledge made by the Scottish Government with the introduction of Private Residential Tenancy agreements in 2017.
“At PayProp, we support reforms intended to ensure a fair and progressive private rental sector. But making these temporary changes permanent without implementing a new housing Bill will deprive them of the normal level of scrutiny given a full housing bill, and the industry won’t have the opportunity to propose and consider alternative measures.”
Cobbold fears the move could deter investment, leaving tenants with a reduced choice of rental properties at higher prices, as some landlord groups have warned.
“By revising Part 4 of the Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) (Scotland) Bill to ensure the previously mandatory reasons for reclaiming possession are restored as mandatory, we believe landlords will be granted the reassurance they need. Doing so would provide the necessary protection to existing landlords while giving clarity and reassurance to those considering investing in Scotland’s private rented sector.”
Cobbold fears that there may be a possibility that the rest of the UK could follow similar measures.
Even if it does not, Cobbold says Scottish eviction reforms could yet have an impact across the UK, as what is trailed in Scotland is often implemented by Westminster at a later date.
“Making all grounds for eviction permanently discretionary may help those who breach tenancy due to circumstances beyond their control. However, it could open the door to disruptive tenants who may use this safety net to exploit the rental sector.”