December 2016 saw the replacement of fixed term short-assured tenancies with unlimited term private residential tenancies in Scotland. At the same time the jurisdiction of the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) expanded to replace the role of the Sheriff Court in Summary Cause Actions for Civil cases relating to the private rented sector.
Landlords and tenants no longer have to go to court, incur expensive legal costs and endure court formalities to evict tenants, chase rent arrears or compensation for losses.
Application to the Housing Tribunal in Scotland is free of charge, the case meetings and hearings are held in local centres, there is no dress code, and the parties can represent themselves. The Housing Tribunal meetings will have a legal member as Chair, and either a second legal member or ordinary member in attendance. There will also be an administrative officer from the Tribunal office to support the meeting.
Legal members are drawn from the legal profession and are often practicing solicitors and advocates from a mix of legal specialists. The ordinary members are drawn from several professions and backgrounds.
Presenting your case to the Housing Tribunal does not require any qualifications or legal knowledge as the Tribunal members are able to guide the parties to present their case. This could be daunting for anyone unused to presentations and unsure what evidence to provide to support their arguments.
In these situations, representatives can be engaged to act for the landlord or tenant. Key-Lets have done this on several occasions, successfully representing landlords in actions against tenants.
The Housing Tribunal in Scotland publish decisions on their website and it is recommended landlords should research past cases to understand how arguments are presented and cases won. The decisions are searched using the type of application and Tribunal rule numbers. For example, cases involving tenants against landlords due to non-protection of deposits are found in the ‘Other Private Tenancy Applications’ database under rule 103.
Presenting to the Tribunal is portrayed as informal and user friendly. Compared to a court setting this may well be true, however it is not a chat in the pub. The Tribunal are very much a legal body with the authority to make the same decisions as the Sheriff Court. The Tribunal members reflect their legal status and manage meeting accordingly.
Preparation and evidence are the two things any landlord must do to ensure the best chance of success. Do not rely on the Tribunal members to even the odds when facing a tenant represented by a solicitor, Shelter, or tenant organisation/charity.
For further information read my blogs on Key-Lets experience of Housing Tribunals in Scotland.
Call Tim on 01292 289289 or Email: [email protected]
We have a number of helpful videos on our YouTube channel.
You can message me through Linked In.