First Wrongful Termination Order issued in Scotland

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All grounds for eviction in Scotland are now discretionary. This means the housing tribunal must consider the reasonableness of the request of an eviction order.

Currently the Scottish Government has imposed an eviction ban to continue in Tier 3 and 4 areas until 31 March 2021. The ban only applies to the ‘enforcement’ part of eviction proceedings. It means sheriff officers can’t remove a household from a property while this ban is in place.

There are some exceptions to this ban, including if the eviction was granted due to criminal or antisocial behaviour.

Otherwise, and in normal times, evictions can take place. Any private residential tenancy that started in Scotland on or after 1 December 2017 is governed by the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 which means tenants have more protection than previously, including:

  • No more fixed terms – private residential tenancies are open ended, meaning a landlord can’t ask tenants to leave just because they have been in the property for 6 months as they could with a short assured tenancy.
  • Restricted rent increases – rent can only be increased once every 12 months (with 3 months notice) and if tenants think the proposed increase is unfair they can refer it to a rent officer.
  • A longer notice period – if a tenant has lived in a property for longer than 6 months the landlord will have to give at least 84 days notice to leave (unless term have been breached in the tenancy).
  • Simpler notices – the notice to quit process has been scrapped and replaced by a simpler notice to leave process.
  • A Model Tenancy Agreement – the Scottish Government has published a model private residential tenancy that can be used by landlords to set up a tenancy.

Following the introduction of the new tenancy rules, one landlord has now been the first to be penalised for breaching the rules. The landlord evicted a tenant on concocted and wrongful grounds. This has caused the Housing & Property Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (FTS) to awarded its first Wrongful Termination Order (WTO).

The landlord had provided the tenant with a Notice To Leave amid a fractious relationship, using the stated ground that the landlord and family wanted to move into and occupy the premises as their main home.

This original eviction claim was opposed by the tenant arguing that it was not credible to believe that the landlord and his family genuinely wanted to move out of a three-bedroom property they lived in to move to a one-room studio flat.

Despite this argument, the tribunal granted the order for eviction explaining that the Scottish Parliament’s legislation had set “a very low bar” for landlords to have to meet.

Wrongful Termination Order

However, as the tenant observed that following the eviction, very quickly repairs and redecoration had been carried out and new tenants had been moved into the flat.

The tenant then applied again to the tribunal assisted by the Community Help & Advice Initiative (CHAI) for a Wrongful Termination Order. CHAI outlined the history of the tenancy and the ground for eviction relied on, and showed that the landlord and his family had not moved into the studio flat.

The tribunal concluded that the landlord had misled the tribunal when the eviction order was granted and determined that the tenant was entitled the WTO due to the wrongful termination by eviction order. It awarded the tenant a financial penalty of £1,350, equivalent to three times the monthly rent under the original tenancy agreement.

(Image – Scottish Parliament building – Holyrood)

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – First Wrongful Termination Order issued in Scotland | LandlordZONE.

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Police and landlords tackle Covid cannabis farms boom with simple solution

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A group of landlords have teamed up with South Yorkshire Police to stamp out cannabis houses in rented homes by ramping up property checks, following the lead of several other police forces including recent initiatives in Leicester.

At least 35 landlords and letting agents in Barnsley have already signed up to the Cannabis Aware Scheme since last August and, as a result, detection in cannabis grows has doubled compared to the three months before the scheme started, according to the local force.

PC Paul Davies of South Yorkshire Police launched the scheme in a bid to deter those looking to let properties to grow cannabis, as well as to help detect criminals cultivating the drug in existing lettings.

He says landlords and letting agents would previously only conduct one quick check every six months once a tenant was in the property.

Growing period

But with the average growing time for a cannabis plant of about 12 weeks, six months potentially allows time for two grow cycles. Instead, more regular checks are deterring illegal activity.

He advises: “Inform potential tenants that you will actively check properties on a regular basis – every 10 weeks would be enough to put off a future tenant with nefarious motives.”

Landlords don’t need to enter a property, adds Davies: “Look for external signs, heavy constant smell of cannabis, windows blacked out, excessive condensation on windows, letterbox blocked, heavy use of anti-odour devices, bins not being used and visitors at unusual hours staying for a short period of time.”

The lockdown has seen a nationwide boom in the illegal industry with police forces carrying out an increased numbers of raids. West Leicester police report closing down at least one cannabis set-up every week, while Nottinghamshire Police have seen a rise of 280% in cannabis plant seizures during lockdown compared to the same period last year.  

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – Police and landlords tackle Covid cannabis farms boom with simple solution | LandlordZONE.

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Evictions nightmare: Landlord loses £30k during ongoing battle with letting agency

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A desperate landlord fears he could lose his home after a letting agent installed squatters in his rental flat and racked up £30,000 in rent arrears.

Max Christian (pictured,above), from Stockport, signed up his three-bedroom Camden flat with Camden-based London Residential in March 2019 but only received the first quarter’s rent.

He tells LandlordZONE that his nightmare began later that year when he discovered the original tenants had moved out and one of the letting agent’s employees had moved in. 

“I eventually got them out by having their two Mercedes ticketed on the private forecourt and got the flat sold STC last year through another agency,” he explains.

“Then just before completion, new squatters appeared and new high security locks were installed so I couldn’t sell it with vacant possession. London Residential then rang to suggest I use them instead to sell the flat, as nobody else could access it.” 


The squatters have now been in his flat for nearly a year and Max is owed more than £30,000 in rent arrears.

He’s handed the firm a Section 8 with the help of Landlord Action, but the situation is also complicated by the fact that the tenancy is in the name of the letting agent’s co-founder who lives in the States and therefore beyond the reach of the county court order Max obtained. 

Max says Landlord Residential has twice acknowledged that the second set of squatters are under its control – once by offering to sell the flat with vacant possession and once by saying they won’t leave until forced by law. A recording of the conversation is available on YouTube.

Adds Max: “I just want my flat back so I can sell it and pay my bills as I have a mortgage on my own house too. I find it incredible that the law protects their rights more than mine, but I’m not going to give up.”

The experience has left him vowing never to let out a property again and resigned to the fact that the rent arrears will never be paid.

LandlordZONE has contacted London Residential for a comment.

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – Evictions nightmare: Landlord loses £30k during ongoing battle with letting agency | LandlordZONE.

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Breathing Space scheme: Landlords with ‘problem debt’ tenants face new hurdles after May 4th

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Landlords face more eviction hurdles after May 4th when a government scheme to protect people who have ‘problem debt’ comes into force.

As the NRLA highlighted earlier this week, although the scheme was meant to cover banks and other large lenders, it believes tenants
will be included in the scheme.

Although only applicable to the most serious debt cases, the scheme – which was announced in July but will only go live in May – will complicate both the evictions process and how landlord interact with guarantors.

It is also feared that tenant advocacy groups such as Shelter will encourage tenants who have built up rent arrears to use the new regulations to fend off attempts by landlords to recoup rental debt.

Called the Debt Respite or ‘Breathing Space’ Scheme, it is designed to protect a variety of people who may have built up problem debt caused by the pandemic.

Breathing spaces

“These breathing spaces come in two forms – standard and mental health,” says Mike Morgan of HF Assist and Mediation.

“A standard breathing space means landlords cannot contact a tenant to collect rent arrears for 60 days, while a mental health breathing space lasts for 30 days or until the ‘mental health crisis’ ends.

“One problem is that this latter part of the scheme is open ended – tenants can enter multiple mental health crisis Breathing Spaces almost indefinitely if an approved professional agrees.”

But the scheme is not the debt free-for-all landlords imagine – a Breathing Space must be approved by either local authority, charity or FCA-approved debt advisors.

But once they are, landlords’ hands are tied; they cannot serve a Section 8 eviction notice, apply for a warrant or money judgement or receive a possession order.

“Also, during a Breathing Space, landlords should not contact the tenant to ask for payment of the debt,” says Morgan (pictured).

“But mediation can continue during this process, albeit between the landlord and the tenant’s debt counsellor.”

The scheme will be administered by the Insolvency Service, which will notify landlords if their tenants has successfully entered the Breathing Space scheme.”

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – Breathing Space scheme: Landlords with ‘problem debt’ tenants face new hurdles after May 4th | LandlordZONE.

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Property investors now due ‘millions’ in stamp duty refunds, claims campaigning tax firm

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Many buy-to-let investors could now be owed million of pounds collectively by HMRC after its tax guidance on paying the additional 3% second homes stamp duty following the amendment of its official online guidance.

Cornerstone Tax has argued in the past including during several court hearings that some investors who bought residential properties within mixed-use developments only had to pay an additional 1% in stamp duty, not the full 3%.

It successfully argued that the Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS) could only apply where the transaction consisted wholly of residential properties, and not to Multiple Dwellings Relief claims.

Cornerstone found that in certain circumstances, the default minimum rate of 1%, which remained on the statute book, was still in force.

Incorrect guidance

As well as saving many new buy-to-let investors thousands of pounds in stamp duty the company says that, due to the incorrect guidance, many developers and investors have paid 3% on the residential element of a multiple dwellings relief claim, and not the 1% minimum rate that they were eligible for.

“We currently have a number of cases before the courts on multiple dwellings relief, mixed use properties, and other important issues to the taxpaying public,” says David Hannah, Chairman and Chief Executive of Cornerstone Tax (pictured).

david hannah stamp duty

“The total bill for repayments could run into tens of millions of pounds, given the popularity of ‘convert to rent’ and ‘convert to sell’ schemes, which have been run on commercial properties in the last four years.

“There is normally a four year time limit for making reclaims, but due to incorrect guidance from HMRC, it may be possible to claim as far back as when the surcharge was introduced in April 2016.”

Read more about this story.

©1999 – Present | Parkmatic Publications Ltd. All rights reserved | LandlordZONE® – Property investors now due ‘millions’ in stamp duty refunds, claims campaigning tax firm | LandlordZONE.

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Right to Regenerate consultation

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The public will be able to convert vacant plots of land and derelict buildings into new homes or community spaces, under plans announced by the Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick.

The ‘Right to Regenerate’ proposals would make it easier to challenge councils and other public organisations to release land for redevelopment – helping communities make better use of public land and give a new lease of life to unloved buildings.

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5 Tenant Tricks to throw out a Section 21 notice

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Landlords need to be in no doubt that tenants are being educed by councils, shelter, a wide range of no-win, no-fee ambulance chasers and now tenants unions too.

Tenants are not only shown the ‘tricks and hacks’ they can use to stop you being able to gain possession (no matter how much they haven’t paid in rent) but also (because there is money in it for all of these organisations one way or another) how to hit you the landlord with Rent Repayments Orders for a full years’ rent and various other forms of compensation claim.

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