Changes to Scottish Secure Tenancies & Eviction following Criminal Convictions
A Guest Blog on recent changes to Scottish Secure Tenancies from Glasgow University Law and Legal Practice Diploma Graduate Nicola Dunlop who has been assisting Ken Caldwell, Litigation Partner over the past weeks
On 1st May 2019 sections 3-11 and 14-15 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 came into force .
The new provisions introduce four main changes relating to the allocation of social housing, Short Scottish Secure Tenancies, criminal conviction evictions and recovery of possession of properties designed for special needs.
The most notable of these changes is the new requirement relating to criminal conviction evictions and this will be the focus of this article.
The new requirement changes the way a tenancy can be terminated if there is a conviction for serious antisocial or criminal behaviour. Previously, the court needed to consider whether it was reasonable to evict after a conviction, but this test has now been dispensed with. The new requirement is a notice of intention to raise proceedings for recovery of possession on the grounds that the tenant, or a person residing in or visiting the house, has been convicted of using the house for immoral or illegal purposes, or an offence punishable by imprisonment committed in, or in the locality of the house. This must be served within twelve months of either the day on which the person was convicted of the offence forming the ground for recovery, or where the conviction was appealed, the day on which the appeal was dismissed or abandoned.
The consequence of this change is that a Scottish Secure Tenancy can now be ended if someone in the household is convicted of a serious offence either in the home or the locality. A serious offence is one that the offender could have been imprisoned for, regardless of whether a prison sentence was imposed.
The provisions of the Act now provide Social Landlords with a more efficient process for eviction based on criminal convictions, however a human rights defence of proportionality remains open to tenants in certain very limited circumstances.
Further changes will be introduced on 1st November in relation to assignation, subletting and joint tenancies as well as succession.