The introduction of private rented tenancies (PRTs) brought with it a raft a new penalties for breaches of the underpinning legislation, the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016.
At the outset, many landlords fell foul of the requirement to lodge a tenant's deposit with a tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days of the beginning of the lease. In fact, the first tier tribunal can order a landlord to pay the tenant up to three times the amount of the deposit.
Landlords also face stiff penalties if they are found to have misled the tribunal into granting an eviction order, or a tenant was misled into leaving the property. In those cases it can impose a penalty of up to six times the monthly rental.
In a recent decision the tribunal granted an order against a landlord who was found to have misled a tenant into leaving her rented property.
The landlord served a notice to quit relying on the eviction ground that a member of the landlord's family member need to stay in the rental property; however, the landlord advertised it for rent less than a week after the tenant had left.
The tribunal did not accept the landlord's explanation that the family member was unhappy with the condition the tenant had left the property in and decided not to move in.
The inference it drew was the landlord had relied on that ground for eviction as it only required three months' notice, as opposed to six months' required where there were rental arrears.
The tribunal found the tenant's rental arrears was the real reason the landlord wanted the tenant out.
Due to COVID-19, it has undoubtedly become more difficult for landlords to remove tenants: the notice periods have been extended and, at the moment, all grounds for eviction set out in the legislation are discretionary, rather than some being mandatory. However, trying to take short-cuts or misleading tenants into leaving a rented property can backfire badly and advice should be taken before any notices are served. In this case, the landlord was ordered to pay the tenant £1,500.
The penalty could have been double that but for the tribunal accepting that the tenant could not afford the rent for the property and eviction was somewhat inevitable.
The maximum penalty which can be imposed is six times the monthly rental. The monthly rental for this property was £500. In assessing the quantum of the wrongful-termination order, the Tribunal took all the circumstances into account and decidedthat an order for three times the monthly rent was just and appropriate