As a result of the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 coming into force on 1st December 2017, The First-Tier Housing Tribunal is now in operation. All applications seeking recovery of possession of heritable property submitted on or after 1st December 2017 require to be submitted to the Tribunal using a new form of application; Form E. This includes applications not only under the new legislation (which I do not intend to comment on any further in this article) but also in relation to all pre-existing tenancies.
The First-Tier Tribunal, in terms of the Act at least, is designed to be user friendly. It is designed to deal with applications for possession of property quickly. Its aim is to allow landlords and their letting agents to deal with the applications themselves, without necessarily the employment of a Solicitor. Many practitioners will remember that the new Simple Procedure Rules arrived to similar fanfare, only for Courts to get bogged down with the new forms those Rules introduced, causing significant backlogs in many Courts throughout Scotland.
I have now submitted a number of applications to the Tribunal since it came into force. On each occasion we received a quick acknowledgement from the Tribunal that they had received the applications. This was encouraging, suggesting that they were encountering no initial backlog of applications.
That having been said, no substantive progress has taken place in any of the applications submitted other than the first letter of acknowledgement. Worryingly, the paperwork received back from the Tribunal contained their own lengthy reference, but only made reference to the address of the property. It did not contain the names of the parties (whether landlord or tenants) and did not contain my firm’s own internal reference. As a result, I had trouble locating the appropriate files to which the correspondence relates. Upon querying the lack of this basic information with the Tribunal, I was advised that their new system did not allow the processing of such information. That is worrying to say the least. An internal reference may be a small matter, but it strikes me it is a basic requirement when parties are corresponding with each other, especially when parties are submitting volume applications. The fact that the new system cannot deal with and accommodate such a request raises concerns at this end.
Only time will tell if these initial wrinkles are ironed out. Only time tell if this process is, in fact, a quick and easy way for these disputes to be resolved. At this moment in time, the process does not appear to be any quicker than the old Summary Cause procedure for recovering possession of property. Indeed, it may well take longer which in my opinion defeats the purpose of the new legislation.
Let’s wait and see what the next six months bring.
For More Information Contact:
Direct Dial: 0131 516 5362
Direct Dial: 0131 516 5362
The information and opinions contained in this blog are for information only. They are not intended to constitute advice and should not be relied upon or considered as a replacement for advice. Before acting on any of the information contained in this blog, please seek specific advice from Gilson Gray.