1. Rent Arrears
The accrual of rent arrears is far and away the most common ground for eviction in Scotland, with over 90% of cases alleging backrent as the sole ground for repossession of residential premises.
Notice of Proceedings for Recovery of Possession
A Registered Social Landlord wishing to evict a Secure Tenant on this ground must apply to court for an eviction order or ‘decree’. Moreover, before he may even commence actual court proceedings against the tenant, he must serve on him a ‘Notice of Proceedings for Recovery of Possession’, otherwise known as an ‘NPRP’ in the form stipulated in section 14 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001.
The purpose of the NPRP is to put the tenant ‘on notice’ of the landlord’s intention to commence court proceedings, so the tenant may have an opportunity to put right the ground for eviction beforehand, i.e. in the case of arrears by paying them off – thus avoiding court action.
The NPRP must specify the earliest date when the landlord may commence court proceedings. The exact length of this notice period varies from case to case depending on the circumstances, the details of the tenancy agreement, and the date when the NPRP is served. It is a technical question that may require specific advice from a qualified solicitor. That said, often the notice period is as brief as four weeks or thereabouts, and seldom long enough to clear sizeable backrent.
The NPRP is a ‘pre-litigation prerequisite’, i.e. if the landlord does not serve it, or if it is invalid, then any subsequent court proceedings are ‘incompetent’ and the sheriff or judge should dismiss the action.
Co-Tenants & Qualifying Occupiers
If the tenancy is held by more than one tenant, the landlord must serve an NPRP on each co-tenant. The landlord must also serve a copy of the NPRP on any ‘Qualifying Occupiers’, i.e. persons other than the tenant or co-tenants, who are known to the landlord to reside there and who are aged 16 years or older. This most usually means members of the tenant’s family, but may also include lodgers.
Qualifying occupiers may have the right to defend court proceedings for eviction even if the tenant chooses not to do so.
If the tenant does not pay off the arrears by the date specified in the NPRP , then the landlord may commence court proceedings by serving a ‘Summons’ on the tenant (or on each co-tenant if the tenancy is held by more than one tenant).
A ‘Summons’ is the form of court document used to commence proceedings in the ‘Summary Cause Court’, which is a branch of the Sheriff Court that deals with the vast majority of landlord/tenant eviction cases (it may only hear cases with a fincial value of up to £5,000).
NB, A small minority of landlords prefer to commence court proceeding in the ‘Ordinary Cause Court’ (which may hear cases worth over £5,000). They will not use a Summons, but instead a document called an ‘Initial Writ’. The procedure is quite different and may require specific advice from a qualified solicitor. Ordinay Cause proceedings in landlord/tenant eviction cases will not be covered by this website.
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- Court Proceedings