Notice to Quit 1st Oct 2016

Eviction law in Scotland is a very complex process. Every step in this procedure must be done perfectly, or court action will fail.

Notice to Quit is the document a landlord has to give tenants in order to end their tenancy agreement. For short assured tenancies (6 months plus) the minimum notice period is 40 days. There are proposals currently going through the Scottish Parliament to change the rules for ending a tenancy and The Key Place will keep you updated regarding these.

The Notice to Quit must contain certain prescribed information and will be invalid if this is not included. There should be a Notice to Quit, AT6 and Section 33 for each tenant. The following documents must be served in person and signed for by the tenants. The Key Place therefore uses Sherriff’s Officers to do this so that there is evidence of this being done.

Notice to Quit
• Must be in writing
• Give tenants at least 2 months' notice
• State that the landlord requires possession of the property
• State that once the notice has run out, the landlord still has to get an order from the court before the tenants have to leave
• Explain that the short assured tenancy will be brought to an end, however it will be replaced by a statutory assured tenancy, where new tenancy terms or rent changes can be proposed
• Include information about where tenants can get advice

The AT6, also known as a Notice of Proceedings should be sent at the same time as the Notice to Quit. It tells the tenant under what ground their landlord wants to start legal proceedings (there are currently 17 different grounds that a landlord can use to evict a tenant). The AT6 notice period refers to the amount of time that has to pass before the landlord can start sheriff court proceedings, rather than the amount of time the tenant has to leave the property.

Section 33
In the Section 33, the landlord gives the tenants 2 months written notice, telling them they want their property back. If the landlord wants the property back on the day the tenancy agreement ends, the Section 33 must be served at least 2 months before that date.

The grounds on which landlords evict tenants have to be stated correctly. If the case goes to court, the sheriff will use the grounds to decide whether the tenant should be evicted. If the landlord has used any of grounds 1-8 and can prove they are applicable, the sheriff has to grant an eviction order. If any of grounds 9-17 have been used, the sheriff has to decide whether eviction is reasonable. The grounds are as follows:

Mandatory grounds
• (1) The landlord wants the property to be their own home or the property was previously their own home.
• (2) A lender has repossessed the landlord’s property due to mortgage arrears and wants to sell it.
• (3) Off-season holiday let (i.e. the property is normally rented out as a holiday home).
• (4) Short leases (less than 12 months) between lets to students.
• (5) The property is needed by a minister or full-time lay missionary.
• (6) The landlord intends to carry out major work on the property.
• (7) The tenant has died and the landlord starts the eviction process within 12 months of the death.
• (8) The tenant has three months' rent arrears. This is a mandatory ground, however, Sheriffs may apply discretion where the rent arrears have been caused by a delay in paying housing benefit.

Discretionary grounds
• (9) Suitable alternative accommodation is available to the tenant.
• (10) The tenant was served a Notice to Quit but did not leave.
• (11) Persistent delay in paying rent.
• (12) Some rent is unpaid.
• (13) Breach of the tenancy agreement.
• (14) The tenant has allowed or caused damage to the property or the building's common parts.
• (15) The tenant has used the property for illegal purposes or has caused a nuisance or annoyance to neighbours.
• (16) Damage to the landlord's furniture.
• (17) The property was let to the tenant because of their job and they no longer have this job.

If tenants are still in the property on the date the notice period expires, landlords can start the process of eviction through the courts. This is why it is essential that an AT6 is served at the same time as the Notice to Quit papers, so that the tenants have been given notice of intention to raise proceedings. The length of time it will take for the eviction to take place depends on how and why the eviction is happening and whether the eviction is defended or not. Generally a hearing will be granted at the Sheriff Court within 6-8 weeks, although this may be longer. If the eviction order is granted, then it will still take 4-6 weeks beyond that to get the tenant out (if everything runs smoothly). If the tenant defends the action, there will be an added delay while a court hearing is arranged, and parties gather their evidence.

Of course, all of the above is a costly and time consuming process. It is vital that every step in the procedure is done perfectly. The Key place has experience of dealing with all of these matters, and will act on behalf of our fully managed landlords.