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Ending a Tenancy

A well informed landlord results in fewer illegal evictions and better tenant support

Ending a tenancy properly and in an orderly way can be the most fraught part of a landlord role. With the right guidance landlords can keep themselves right in a way that works for tenants too.

Benefits

  • Fewer illegal evictions
  • Where evictions are unavoidable, well-informed landlords follow the correct process reducing the need for local authorities to take enforcement action
  • Encouraging landlords to serve Section 11 notices on the local authority as early as possible increases the amount of time housing options/homelessness teams have to try and solve tenancy sustainment issues or help tenants secure alternative accommodation

All tenancies come to an end at some point and ending a tenancy smoothly and with minimal issues is an area that both landlords and tenants can find problematic. When things don’t go well, it can not only affect those directly involved, but the local authority and other support services who may be indirectly impacted.

Local authorities can play a key role in ensuring tenancies are brought to an end legally and professionally. Decreasing the chances of having to deal with the fallout of landlord-tenant disputes.

You may want to consider sending this advice sheet to your existing landlords and/or making it available on your website. You could also think about providing training to landlords either face-to-face or via a webinar to help them understand their responsibilities and share good practice.

Well-informed landlords are more likely to comply with regulations which can result in fewer illegal evictions and acrimonious disputes between them and their tenants or the local authority housing options/homelessness teams. Landlords who are encouraged to notify local authorities of eviction proceedings earlier give housing options/homelessness services more time to help tenants resolve tenancy sustainment issues or secure alternative housing.

The advice below can be provided to landlords to help them develop good practice as well as comply with the law.

  • You will need to follow the correct process to evict your tenant(s) depending on what tenancy type they have. There is a helpful guide developed by Renting Scotland on ending a tenancy.
  • The advance notice required will depend on which reason for eviction you are relying on, and how long the tenant has been in your property.
  • If the tenancy started on or after the 1st December 2017, it is possible to create a suitable and compliant letter using this template developed by the Scottish Government.
  • If your tenant is still in the property after the date you told them to leave, you MUST apply to the Housing and Property Chamber of the Tribunal Service for an eviction order to lawfully evict the tenant.
  • If you choose to apply for an eviction order, you will also need to serve a ‘Section 11’ notice on the local authority. This is a document that alerts the local authority that somebody may be about to become homeless. You can access a suitable section 11 template notice here.
  • Remind the tenant of their obligations (e.g. cleaning) under the tenancy agreement before it ends, preferably in writing. Many tenants will have been in the property for a long time and may have forgotten aspects of their original agreement. A gentle reminder of what is expected of them can result in better compliance with the agreement or simpler discussions over deductions from the deposit.
  • Discuss the checkout process (e.g. what time you expect them to leave, who will be there…) in advance with the tenant so it is a seamless process on the day.
  • Wherever possible, ensure that the tenant attends the checkout process. Ensure that their comments are noted if they disagree with anything (e.g. extent of any damage) and make reference to these comments when responding over deductions from the deposit.
  • Check all items off the inventory and note anything that is missing or damaged. Best practice would suggest taking lots of pictures from different angles. Remember in the event of dispute, the burden of proof may be on the landlord to show that the tenants have damaged the property.
  • You will need to take into account fair wear and tear and any agreed improvements the tenants have made to the property when considering whether or not to make any deductions from the deposit.
  • Make sure you get all the keys back and consider changing the locks for the security of your next tenant.
  • As part of the check-out process, take meter readings to pass on to utility suppliers as the landlord is responsible for the bills over any vacant period. You may also want to ask for proof that any final bill has been paid for the tenants and confirm who the current supplier is.
  • Inform the Council Tax department of the date that the tenants moved out and tell them of any forwarding address.
  • At the end of the tenancy you will apply to the Tenancy Deposit Scheme the tenants deposit is with so it can be repaid.
  • Ending a tenancy is not always a straightforward process and be mindful that illegal eviction will constitute a criminal offence, so it is important to do things correctly to avoid incurring a fine or prison sentence. If you are unsure, you can seek independent legal advice, contact the Housing and Property Chamber of the Tribunal Service, or get in touch with your local authority housing team for general guidance.

This is also available as a downloadable Advice Sheet which you can provide directly to landlords.

You can also download an ‘Ending a tenancy’ checklistwhich you can give to landlords to help them prepare to finish a tenancy smoothly and lessen the chances of disputes with tenants.

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