Scottish landlords are facing a 10-month wait to evict tenants who refuse to pay rent, according to data obtained by legal firm Aberdein Considine.
The firm used freedom of information law to uncover that the average eviction now takes over 300 days, which, it says, is putting “unacceptable pressure” on landlords, who may be thousands of pounds out of pocket as a consequence.
The new Housing & Property Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal, which has been hit with an increasing caseload since it opened in 2017, has received more than 3,800 applications in the past year alone, and the average time to obtain an order in eviction cases is 141 days, figures from Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service reveal.
Since the eviction process can only begin after three months of rent arrears, and require a 28-day notice period, plus two days intimation, when added to around a week for the tribunal’s written decision followed by the 30-day appeal period and then 14 days for a charge for removal, the total time rises to 312 days.
As a result, Aberdein Considine say, a typical eviction application process is leaving landlords with several months of unpaid arrears, and unable to relet their properties for up to nine months. In the longest case recorded to date, one landlord had to wait 429 days just to secure an eviction order.
It also warned that landlords are being driven away from the sector, which could lead to falling stock and rising rents for tenants in the future.
Adrian Sangster, the firm's national lettings director, commented: “Scotland’s landlords already feel unfairly targeted after a number of taxation changes, such as the additional dwelling supplement. To now also have to wait 10 months to secure an eviction and relet is adding further unacceptable pressure.
“The private rented sector still plays a vital and necessary part in Scotland’s housing mix, due largely to the failure of successive governments to build enough social housing.
“By creating this increasingly hostile investment market for landlords, governments risk driving investors away, and by default cutting the availability of properties for let and driving up average rents.”
Aberdein Considine solicitor advocate Carly Stewart added: “The move to the new tribunal process is a positive one, but understandably any changes will take time to get right.
“Even the most average, straightforward application is taking a lengthy period of time to process through the tribunal. The fastest application to date still took 80 days. This needs to be looked at.
“Our research also shows that almost 20% of applications were rejected on technical grounds, forcing landlords to start the process again. What this shows us is just how important it is for landlords to get these applications and eviction notices right at the first time of asking to avoid any further delay.”