Eviction due to rent arrears

Your landlord must have a reason (ground) to evict you. Rent arrears are one of these grounds.

If you do not make sufficient payments towards clearing your rent arrears, your landlord will have the right to try to evict you. They cannot just throw you out of your home. The correct legal procedures must be followed.

Enforcing evictions

Scotland has moved beyond level 0.

This means evictions can now be enforced across the country.

Contact an adviser at Shelter Scotland if you are concerned that you will be evicted.

Select the situation that applies to you:

Social renting – eviction because of rent arrears

If you rent your home from the council or a housing association you will most likely have a:

  • Scottish secure tenancy, or

  • short Scottish secure tenancy

Find out what kind of tenancy you have.

Your landlord must follow certain steps before they can start eviction action for arrears. These are called pre-action requirements. They must:

  • give you clear information about the terms of your tenancy agreement, your rent, or any other cost you owe your landlord

  • offer you help and advice regarding benefits or other forms of financial help

  • help you with debt management, giving you information on where to get help with managing your debts

  • try to agree a payment plan

Your landlord should not to start an eviction action before considering:

  • any benefit applications and whether this will help you to pay off your arrears

  • action you are taking which could result in you paying off your arrears in a reasonable time

  • whether you are sticking to the terms of any agreed repayment plan

If your landlord is a housing association then they should also make you aware of how your council can help.

Only after your landlord has followed these pre-action requirements can they start an eviction action for rent arrears.

Going to court

If the case goes to court the sheriff will have to consider the factors listed below before deciding if it is reasonable to grant an eviction order.

The sheriff will take into account:

  • the amount of the arrears

  • the likelihood of you being able to repay the arrears and meet future rent repayments

  • the reasons for the arrears arising, for example, illness, sudden loss of employment or problems with housing benefit

  • what the landlord has done to try to collect the arrears

  • what the consequences of eviction will be for you and your family

  • the length of time you have been a tenant and your history as a tenant before the arrears arose

  • if you have a joint tenancy, whether only one of the tenants is responsible for the arrears

It is best to consult a solicitor specialising in housing law to defend eviction actions.

If you need advice or help to defend an eviction action speak to an adviser or contact a solicitor.

Private renting – eviction because of rent arrears

If you rent from a private landlord or letting agency they can use rent arrears as a ground to evict you.

The eviction process will depend on the kind of tenancy you have.

Find out what kind of tenancy you have if you are not sure.

Pre-action requirements for rent arrears

If you have built up some or all of your rent arrears after 7 April 2020 your landlord is required to try to help you before evicting you. They must do so by following certain steps called pre-action requirements.

Before starting eviction action your landlord must give you clear information about:

  • the terms of your tenancy agreement

  • the amount of rent you owe

  • your rights in the eviction action (including information about the pre-action requirements)

  • how you can access information and advice on financial support and debt management

Your landlord must also make ‘reasonable efforts’ to agree a repayment plan and consider:

  • any steps you have taken which might affect your ability to repay the arrears within a reasonable period of time

  • the extent to which you have complied with any repayment agreement

  • any changes your circumstances which are likely to impact on you affording your repayment agreement

Tell the tribunal if your landlord applies to evict you due to rent arrears and you think they have missed any of these steps. The tribunal has to take this into consideration when deciding whether to grant an eviction order.

The pre-action requirements only need to be followed where tribunal action for eviction is possible after 6 October 2020.

If your landlord is evicting you and you need help with this speak with an adviser or contact a solicitor.

Private residential tenants

Your landlord can start eviction action with a document called a notice to leave.

They cannot give you notice based on arrears until you have not paid any amount of rent for three months in a row.

If you have less than one month’s rent arrears

If you owe less than a month’s worth of rent the tribunal will decide whether it is reasonable to evict you.

If you have one month’s arrears or more

The tribunal must make an eviction order if you are in one month’s arrears:

  • at the time of the notice, and

  • at the time of the eviction hearing

This is unless your rent arrears have been caused by problems with housing benefit or universal credit.

All eviction grounds are currently 'discretionary'

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the law has changed temporarily. All grounds are discretionary if your landlord served you with notice on or after 7 April 2020.

This means that the tribunal will have to decide whether it is reasonable for you to be evicted even where the grounds have been proved.

This is not a ban on evictions.

This new rule remains in force until 31 March 2022.

Your landlord may also need to show they have complied with certain pre-action requirements before they can apply to the tribunal for an eviction order.

No matter when your notice was served, you can speak to an adviser to find out if you can defend any eviction action.

Find out more about eviction and private residential tenants.

Assured tenants

Your landlord can start eviction action with a document called a notice to quit.

If you have less than three months’ arrears

If you have less than three months' rent arrears, it is up to the tribunal to decide whether you should be evicted or not.

If you have three months’ arrears or more

The tribunal must make an eviction order if you have three months arrears:

  • at the time of the notice, and

  • at the time of the eviction hearing

This is unless your rent arrears have been caused by problems with housing benefit or universal credit.

All eviction grounds are currently 'discretionary'

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the law has changed temporarily. All grounds are discretionary if your landlord served you with notice on or after 7 April 2020.

This means that the tribunal will have to decide whether it is reasonable for you to be evicted even where the grounds have been proved.

This is not a ban on evictions.

This new rule remains in force until 31 March 2022.

Your landlord may also need to show they have complied with certain pre-action requirements before they can apply to the tribunal for an eviction order.

Find out more on the eviction process for assured tenants.

Short assured tenants

If you are a short assured tenant, your landlord can also evict you at the end of your lease by serving you with the correct eviction notices. Get these checked by an adviser to make sure they are legally correct.

Find out more on the eviction process for short assured tenants.

Regulated tenants

Some private tenants who have lived in their accommodation for a long time are regulated tenants. You may have a regulated tenancy if it began before 1989.

If a regulated tenant builds up rent arrears the landlord can serve an eviction notice. They must also apply to the tribunal for an eviction order. The tribunal will only make an eviction order if it is reasonable to do so.

Find out more on the eviction process for regulated tenants.

If your landlord got an eviction order

If an eviction order is issued your landlord cannot remove you from the home themselves. Only sheriff officers have the power to do this. They will issue a final notice called a charge for removal giving you a date before they can remove you. This is normally at least 14 days notice.

The landlord may also get an order forcing you to pay the rent you owe. If you don’t pay they may ask sheriff officers to take the money out of your wages.

If you need advice or help to try to stop eviction action speak to an adviser or contact a solicitor.

If you live with your landlord

If you live with your landlord, you will be a common law tenant. Under the common law, your landlord should give you four weeks' notice before you have to leave.

The notice doesn't have to be in writing or for any specific period of time unless it says so in your tenancy agreement. Your landlord does not need to get a court order to evict you.

Find out more on the eviction procedures for common law tenants.

Other tenants

You may have a different kind of tenancy agreement if you live in:

  • a mobile home

  • tied accommodation

  • student accommodation

  • supported accommodation

If one of these apply, find out your rights on eviction.

If you need to talk to someone, we’ll do our best to help. Get Help

Last updated: 23 June 2021

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