SPF Concerns on the COVID Recovery Bill
In a briefing paper sent to the Deputy First Minister and MSPs, the Scottish Property Federation has raised concerns about the proposed reforms to the private rented sector resulting from the Coronavirus (Recovery & Reform) (Scotland) Bill, which will see its Stage 1 debate in the Scottish Parliament tomorrow.
While the Bill could see several welcome changes resulting from lessons learned during the pandemic, including the acceptance of electronic signatures in property transactions, there is widespread industry concern about the removal of mandatory grounds for repossession in the private rented sector. These will now become a discretionary decision for the First-Tier Tribunal (Housing and Property Chamber) to make.
If approved, the legislation is likely to make it more difficult for a landlord to legitimately take control of their property even if the Tribunal agrees with their rational for repossession. This could put additional strain on tribunal system, which could be called on to make an increasing number of decisions. The impact of these changes is likely to add further costs for both the private rental and public sectors and increase the risk that more landlords will leave the market.
David Melhuish, SPF Director, commented:
‘We’re concerned that this premature legislation, if passed, will have a number of knock-on consequences for landlords, tenants and the public sector. At a time when there is a serious lack of supply of rental properties in many areas across Scotland, we can ill afford to lose more properties from the market or discourage new institutional investment into the nascent build to rent sector. We call on the Scottish Government to put these proposals on hold and to consider these issues further as part of its ongoing New Deal for Tenants draft Rental Sector Strategy. This will enable a more holistic look at the market that assesses the need to balance the risks for landlords and the rights of tenants.’