Courts must be properly funded to cope with Scotland’s possessions law change



Propertymark has questioned whether the Scottish government is putting enough cash into First-tier Tribunals to cope with extra demand caused by tightening the possessions process.

The Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) Bill will complete its passage through Holyrood this week and so far all attempts to retain mandatory grounds for possession have been ignored by Ministers.

If it passes, the Bill will mean from 1 October every possession claim will continue to be subject to the judgement of the First-tier Tribunal, and an order will only be granted where the tribunal agrees the ground exists.

Daryl McIntosh, Propertymark’s policy manager for the UK devolved nations, said: “We’re dismayed by the Scottish government’s disregard for industry expertise and evidence in their progression of the Bill and its permanent removal of mandatory grounds for possession.

“We would also question whether the Scottish Government has adequately considered the full costs of removing mandatory grounds, given that no attempt appears to have been made to account for much of FTT’s operational costs that are, by the Scottish Government’s own admission, difficult to quantify.

“With inevitable increases in overall casework, pressure on scheduling and multiple case management discussions required per application, it is astounding that the full costs – and their impact on application timescales – have not been properly examined.

“Far from creating an environment that would instil confidence and boost investment to ensure a sufficient supply of homes in the private rented market, this change represents a backward step that will see reduced investment, less choice for tenants and more pressure on the social housing sector.”

All 18 grounds are currently temporarily discretionary as part of measures brought in to protect tenants during the pandemic.

Propertymark is warning any delay to tribunal cases will reduce confidence in the possessions procedure and negatively impact investment from landlords and lenders, meaning fewer properties available to rent.

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