The first stage of the implementation of the Tribunals (Scotland) Act 2014 will take place on 1st December, 2016 as two existing housing panels – The Private Rented Housing Panel (PRHP) and Home Owner Housing Panel (HOHP) –merge to create the new Housing and Property Chamber.
The Chamber, comprising of the existing staff and support from the two original panels, has been devised to sit on the newly created First-Tier Tribunal for Scotland. The First-Tier tribunal will be made up of seven chambers in total.
Continuing the work of the PRHP and HOHP, the Housing and Property Chamber will deal with:
- Rent and repair issues in the private rented sector
- Advice on exercising a landlords right of entry
- Mediate issues between homeowners and factors
The Frist-Tier Tribunal, together with the Upper Tribunal for Scotland, will create a new two-tier structure which will be known collectively as the Scottish Tribunals. The First-Tier Tribunal will hear all cases in the first instance, progressing appeals to the Upper Tribunal, improving the management and organisation of tribunals in Scotland.
Many cases that are currently heard in the Sheriff Court will now go through the First-Tier Tribunal instead. It is expected that the First-Tier Tribunal will begin hearing letting agent cases from December 2017, these will include the new letting agents regime and new private tenancies.
The primary change for landlords will be that the PRHP and HOHP will no longer exist, all correspondence from 1st December will come from the Housing and Property Chamber. However, both PRHP and HOHP will keep their websites live, continuing to provide reference materials and information.
As this is the initial stage of the Tribunals (Scotland) Act 2014, it is still unclear how exactly the Scottish Tribunals will operate, however, it is assumed that this will be a positive step towards more efficient litigation in the private rented sector.