Can My Landlord Evict Me?
Renting is a great way for tenants to live in a property without committing to buying, bypassing the need for a large deposit and giving the flexibility that you don’t get with homeownership. One concern for tenants, however, is that their landlord will end their tenancy, leaving them with nowhere to live. This post looks in detail at the 18 grounds for eviction your landlord can use to end your tenancy in Scotland.
This information is only relevant to Private Residential Tenancies.
Private Residential Tenancy
All residential tenancies in Scotland, beginning on or after 1st December 2017, are Private Residential Tenancies (PRTs). Previously, tenancies were Short Assured Tenancies, which landlords (or tenants) could end at any point after the initial fixed term period, as long as they adhered to the correct notice period.
When the PRT was introduced by the Scottish Government, one of the reasons given for doing so was to give tenants increased security in their tenancy. Landlords can no longer end a tenancy without reason, they must state at least one of the below 18 grounds for eviction. If none of the grounds applies, the tenant can continue to rent the property indefinitely.
Notice to leave
If your landlord wishes to end your tenancy, they must serve you a 'notice to leave' document. The notice to leave will tell you why your landlord is ending your tenancy (stating at least one of the below grounds for eviction) and on what date your tenancy will end. Your notice period will depend upon how long you have lived in the property and the ground for eviction being used. However, you will always be given a minimum of 28 days’ notice. You will be given:
- 28 days' notice if you have lived in the property for 6 months or less, or if your landlord is using grounds 7, 8, 11, 12, 13 or 17 to end the tenancy.
- 84 days' notice if you have lived in the property for more than 6 months and none of the above grounds is being used to end the tenancy.
Any disputes arising following the notice to leave are dealt with by the First-Tier Tribunal. If you refuse to leave the property your landlord can apply to the Tribunal for an eviction order, providing them with evidence that the ground stated in the notice to leave is relevant. The Tribunal would then make the final decision.
1. Landlord wants to sell the property
Wishing to sell the property is one of the most commonly used grounds to end a tenancy. This is the landlord's decision and they are within their rights to end your tenancy - as long as the appropriate notice has been served - so the property can be sold.
To comply with this ground, your landlord must list the property for sale within three months of you moving out and should provide evidence to the Tribunal, such as a copy of the home report.
2. Landlords lender wants to sell the property
Similar to above, if the landlord's mortgage lender wishes to repossess the property and sell it, this ground is used to end your tenancy. You will still be given an appropriate notice period to move out.
3. Landlord wants to renovate the property
Your landlord may use this ground to end your tenancy if you live in a property that needs major refurbishment work. Using this ground allows landlords to carry our large-scale renovations that would not be possible whilst the property is tenanted.
For example, a landlord may purchase a property and rent it out. After a while, the landlord wants to increase their rental income by upgrading the property and reconfiguring the rooms to create an additional bedroom. This could not be carried out without causing significant upheaval to tenants so notice would be served to end the tenancy.
This ground can only be used if the landlord provides evidence, such as planning permission or a contract with an Architect to complete the work.
4. Landlord is going to live in the property
Your landlord owns the property, so they are within their rights to choose to move back into it themselves. As long as your landlord can prove that they will be moving into the property, you would have to move out following the notice period. For example, this ground may be used if the landlord has moved abroad for a period and is moving back.
5. Landlord is going to use the property for another purpose
Your landlord can choose to use your property for another (non-residential) purpose, such as business premises. In this (rare) event, you would be given notice to end the tenancy.
This is a mandatory ground so, as long as your landlord has evidence such as planning permission, you will have to leave the property.
6. The property is needed for a religious worker
This ground is quite obscure and is unlikely to be encountered by tenants. Sometimes a property can be held for the specific use of a religious worker (e.g. a priest, nun or rabbi) and, if it is required by someone meeting the criteria, your landlord can end your tenancy. This ground can only be applied if the property has been used for housing a religious worker prior to your tenancy.
7. You have a (relevant) criminal conviction
If you are convicted of an offence resulting in imprisonment when you are a tenant, your landlord can use this ground to bring the tenancy to an end. This ground only applies if your offence is one of the following:
- Illegal use of the property or allowing someone else illegal use of the property
- Committing a crime near or within the property
8. You no longer live in the property
Your tenancy agreement stipulates that you use the property as your main or only home. If you choose to stop using the property as your principal home – only living there some weekends, for example – or move out completely, your landlord can use this ground to end your tenancy.
9. Landlords family member is going to live in the property
As the owner of the property, the landlord has the right to ask you to leave if a member of their family wishes to live there. You can be asked to leave to make way for any of the following relations:
- Partner (married, civil partner or living together)
- Parent (including stepparent) or grandparent
- Child (including stepchild) or grandchild (including someone treated like a child despite not being biologically or legally related)
- Sibling (including step or half-sibling)
- Any family member listed above of their partner
- The partner of any of the family members listed above
Unlike if the landlord is planning to move into the property themselves, this ground is discretionary so the final decision could come from the Tribunal.
The ground only applies if the family member will use the property as their principal home for a minimum of three months, your landlord will have to provide proof of their intentions to the Tribunal.
10. You no longer need supported accommodation
This ground is unlikely to apply to a standard PRT. If you moved into the property because you had a need for supported accommodation, your landlord can use this ground to serve notice if it is decided that you no longer need it.
11. You have breached your tenancy agreement
This ground is a fairly obvious one; if you break one or more of the terms of your tenancy agreement, your landlord has the right to end your tenancy.
One example of breaking the terms of the tenancy agreement would be listing the property on Airbnb, despite the agreement explicitly prohibiting subletting (as many do). This would be a clear breach and your landlord would have the right to end the agreement. Another common issue is a tenant having a pet without the landlord's consent.
Tenancy agreements can be lengthy documents, however, this ground highlights the importance of making sure you read it and adhere to the terms included.
12. You have engaged in (relevant) antisocial behaviour
As a tenant, it is important not to partake in antisocial behaviour. If you do, your landlord can use this ground to end your tenancy.
For this clause, antisocial behaviour can include:
- Being a nuisance or annoyance
- Causing someone alarm or distress
As a tenant this could be, for example, causing annoyance or distress to your neighbours by regularly playing loud music late at night.
13. You have allowed someone with a criminal conviction into the property
You are responsible for whoever you choose to allow into the property. Your landlord can use this ground to end your tenancy if you let someone into your property who has a criminal conviction, or who acts in an antisocial manner, on more than one occasion. Antisocial behaviour could include the harassment of another tenant or a neighbour.
To use this ground for eviction, your landlord would have to apply to the Tribunal within 12 months of the conviction or antisocial behaviour taking place.
14. Landlord's registration has been refused
In Scotland, landlords must be registered with the local council where the property is located. The landlord register checks that a landlord is a fit and proper person to rent a property. This ground means that your tenancy could be ended if your landlord is removed from the register during your tenancy.
The landlord's registration number must be included in the advert copy when the property is marketed for rent, however, a new landlord may advertise before their application is approved by listing the number as ‘pending’. If the application is subsequently declined, your tenancy could be ended.
15. Landlord's HMO licence has been revoked
If you live in an HMO (House of Multiple Occupancy), your landlord needs to have a valid HMO licence in place to rent the property. The HMO licence is issued by the local council and has to be renewed periodically. An HMO licence would be revoked if, for example, safety legislation for lettings properties has changed since the previous licence was issued and your landlord is unable to update the property accordingly.
16. An overcrowding statutory notice has been served on your landlord
If too many people live in your property, to the extent that there is a risk to your health as a tenant, the local council will issue an overcrowding statutory notice to your landlord. Landlords who receive one of these notices may have to serve an eviction notice, however, the final decision would be down to the Tribunal.
17. You have over three months’ rent arrears
If you have failed to pay your rent (either partly or the full amount) for three consecutive months, your landlord has the right to end your tenancy. It is important to talk to your letting agent or landlord as soon as possible if you think you may have issues paying your rent.
This ground can be either mandatory or discretionary, depending upon the circumstances.
Mandatory. Eviction would be mandatory if you have failed to pay your rent in full for three consecutive months and you still owe at least one months rent on the first day of the Tribunal hearing.
Discretionary. An eviction notice would be issued at the discretion of the Tribunal if you owe less than one months rent by the first day of the Tribunal hearing.
18. You have stopped being – or failed to become – an employee
The final ground is only relevant if your landlord is your employer (or potential employer) and you were allowed to live in the property because of your position with the company. If this is the case, your landlord can evict you if you no longer work for the company or if, for whatever reason, you ended up not becoming an employee.
Although there are no guarantees with renting, tenants in Scotland should be comforted by the fact that the PRT gives them increased security of tenure. Yes, your landlord can still serve notice to evict you, but they must have (and be able to prove) a valid reason for doing so.
If you think that you have been misled or wrongly issued a notice to leave, you can apply to the Tribunal for a ‘wrongful termination order’.