Real Estate

Make malicious non-payment of rent a criminal offence and ‘specific ground for eviction’ say landlords

Landlords in Scotland have told researchers that ‘malicious non-payment of rent’ should be included within the legal definition of theft and become a specific mandatory ground for eviction.

Following months of Covid-related eviction bans and evidence of increasing rent arrears, researchers at Glasgow University’s UK Centre for Housing Evidence polled hundreds of private landlords to find out how they thought the rental sector could be improved.

Its ‘CaCHE report‘ concludes that: “The challenge, of course, would be finding a definition of ‘malicious non-payment’ which courts could actually work with.

“However, the challenges posed by malicious non-payment suggest that it is worthy of further consideration.”

Nearly two thirds of the landlords polled, who were presented with a range of options, singled out malicious non-payment as the key solution to rent arrears, along with direct payment of benefits, a streamlined arrears processes, a tenants register and making it easier to chase rent debts.

John Blackwood, Chief Executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords (pictured), says: “We welcome any contribution to the debate that moves us forward in solving Scotland’s housing crisis and what role the PRS should have in meeting that goal, particularly after the effects of the pandemic which has seen both landlords and tenants struggle. 

“We support the findings of the CaCHE report and measures which help tenants fulfil their responsibility to pay their rent and encourage landlords to be understanding and flexible as they have shown throughout the pandemic.”

The report’s authors Andrew Watson and Nick Bailey agree with this point, saying: “Landlords are a very heterogeneous group and not all have the ability to easily absorb the resulting losses.

“Some have themselves been adversely affected by the pandemic in terms of their own employment and their health.

“Over one fifth (23%) of landlords report that their PRS income is ‘critical’ as it is their ‘primary income’.

Read more about the current Scottish evictions situation.

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