I previously blogged about the uncertainty of claiming interest on awards for payment in the First-tier Tribunal – Housing and Property Chamber (FTT).
That uncertainty has now been addressed with the introduction of amendments to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland Housing and Property Chamber (Procedure) Regulations 2017 through the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland Housing and Property Chamber (Procedure) Amendment Regulations 2018 and First-tier Tribunal for Scotland Housing and Property Chamber (Incidental Provisions) Regulations 2019.
As of 20 February 2019 revisions to the regulations will expand on the powers available to the FTT and cover some of the apparent holes in the previous version of the regulations. The amendments bring the FTT rules in line with Simple Procedure currently used in the sheriff courts.
To summarise some of the key amendments:
Interest on Orders for payment
I previously blogged that some Tribunal members were willing to grant Judicial interest on awards at a rate of 8% per annum, where others would only grant contractual interest if available. Some would not grant interest at all. The new FTT amendments set in stone that payment awards may now include interest at the contractual rate stated in the tenancy agreement or at a rate determined by the tribunal. The judicial rate has now been precluded.
Amendments to the sum sued for
A problem faced in dealing with FTT actions for payment was that outstanding rental arrears were likely be different at the point of raising an action to the point of seeking final orders. Usually as a result of tenants remaining in a property racking up monthly rental arrears whilst the landlord sought an eviction order. Landlords would be stuck claiming the lower sum due at the date of raising or face amending the application to have it re-served which would prolong the process. The new amendments allow landlords to increase the sums sued for up to 14 days prior to any hearing which will alleviate the timing issues faced here.
Service by advertisement
Much like walls of court service in the sheriff courts, new amendments allow parties to serve papers on the FTT website where after due and diligent enquiry a party’s current whereabouts cannot be ascertained. This will allow FTT actions to proceed at a quicker pace where once they may have stalled at this point.
Time to Pay Orders
On occasion tenants will make an offer to pay rental arrears by way of instalments. Tribunal members were reluctant to grant orders for payment by instalment as they did not have the power to do so. The new amendments introduce an application process for those seeking time to pay at a set rate or by lump sum within a certain period of time. This welcome measure will allow applicants to swiftly obtain the protection of a payment order whilst recouping sums due without the need to incur further cost in enforcing an order.
I am excited to see how these amendments play out in practice. I hope to report my findings in the coming months. Please do get in touch with our debt recovery department should you have any queries about the amendments.
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.