New Law to Protect Tenants in Arrears in Scotland

A New housing law that provides more protection for social tenants in Scotland with rent arrears from eviction has been approved.

The Scottish Parliament has approved amendments to the Housing Scotland Act (2010) which require social landlords such as housing associations and local authorities, to undertake a series of actions before they can refer a tenant to court for eviction action.

Under the amended legislation, social landlords will have to go through a series of seven key actions including offering tenants advice on housing benefit and making reasonable efforts to agree a repayment plan for rent arrears, before they can approach the courts.

However, going to the court may not result in an eviction.  Even after court action, social tenants will have the right to make a repayment arrangement.

Housing charity Shelter Scotland welcomed the new move by the Scottish government to protect social tenants.  The charity claims that far too often social landlords have used the threat of eviction to collect rent from vulnerable families.

According to Shelter Scotland, councils carried out 1,061 evictions in the 2010-11 financial year, with other social landlords evicting 761 tenants.

Shelter director Graeme Brown said:

“From today, social tenants will be afforded the same protection as homeowners, which, at a time when cuts are hitting home and more people are struggling with household budgets, can only be good news.”

Scottish Minister for Infrastructure and Capital Investment, Alex Neil, commented:

“This Government is committed to ensuring that social housing tenants have access to the information and advice they require to live in a peaceful and secure environment.”

“In 2010/11, only 12% of the 14,600 cases taken to court by social landlords for eviction action resulted in tenant eviction, which is a huge drain on public resources,” he added. 

”Social tenants are required to meet the obligations in their tenancy agreement – including paying their rent.  From today, all social landlords will be required to follow a consistent set of practices before they can evict tenants who fall behind on their rental payments.”

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