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Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016

First-tier Tribunals powers

28.Sections 14 to 17 set out the powers of the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland to:

  • deal with a landlord’s failure to provide written terms of a tenancy as required by section 10 or to provide information as required by regulations under section 11,

  • deal with the situation where either party feels that the written terms they do have do not properly express the terms of the tenancy.

29.Section 14(1) provides that where a landlord is required to supply written tenancy terms to the tenant under section 10 and has failed to do so, the tenant has the ability to refer a case to the First-tier Tribunal. This may arise where the landlord has not provided any written terms, or where some but not all of the tenancy terms have been set out in writing. Before referring a case to the Tribunal, a tenant must give a landlord 28 days’ notice of his or her intention to do so, which allows an opportunity for the failing to be rectified.

30.Section 14(2) enables a landlord or tenant to refer a case to the Tribunal where he or she considers that the tenancy agreement appears to displace a statutory term of the tenancy in a way that is not permitted under the regulations. Once laid out in regulations, the statutory terms will apply automatically even if they are not included in a tenancy agreement. However, this provision allows the Tribunal to determine whether or not a contractual tenancy term does in fact displace a statutory term in an unallowable manner in cases where the position is not entirely clear-cut.

31.Section 15 provides the Tribunal with the power to deal with an application under section 14 by drawing up a document which sets out all the terms of the tenancy, or, if there are already written terms of the tenancy, by declaring the written tenancy terms to be accurate. Any document drawn up by the Tribunal or which is the subject of a declaration as to its accuracy will constitute all the terms of that tenancy.

32.Section 16 enables a tenant to apply to the Tribunal to make a payment order against a landlord who fails to provide the tenant with the necessary tenancy documentation (i.e. documentation required by virtue of section 10 or 11). Any application made in relation to a failure to draw up written terms of a tenancy is conditional upon an application to the Tribunal asking it to draw up written terms of the tenancy also being made. The right to make an application is also restricted to current tenants. Before referring a case to the Tribunal under this section, a tenant must give a landlord 28 days’ notice of his or her intention to do so (allowing an opportunity for the failing to be rectified).

33.Section 16(2) specifies the amount that an order can require a landlord to pay the tenant in cases where the landlord does not have a reasonable excuse for his or her failure. The amount is up to a maximum of three months’ rent where there is a single failure to provide either the written terms of the tenancy required under section 10 or any of the other information required under section 11. Where a landlord fails to provide both the terms of the tenancy required under section 10 and any other information required under section 11, the order can require the landlord to pay the tenant up to a maximum of six months’ rent. Section 16(4) prevents a tenant from increasing the amount he or she can be awarded by bringing separate applications for each individual item not provided under section 11. Accordingly, there is no second opportunity to make a claim in respect of a particular failure to comply with section 11 if it could have been included in an earlier claim regarding a breach of section 11.

34.Section 16(5) states that if there are joint landlords, the Tribunal may make an order against all, some or only one of them. However, the total amount that a tenant may receive is the same as it would be if the tenant had a sole landlord. Conversely, where a joint tenant makes an application, the award is apportioned in accordance with section 16(7) so that even if the other joint tenants make separate applications later, the total amount that a landlord may be required to pay is the same as it would be if there was a sole tenant.

35.Section 17 provides that the amount of notice that a tenant is required to give a landlord before making an application to the Tribunal under section 14 (application to draw up terms) or section 16 (application for a financial award) is 28 days. The 28 day period commences on the later of either the day the landlord receives the notice from the tenant or the day after any deadline date, and the period ends on the day falling 28 days after it began. For example, if the landlord receives notice from the tenant on 15 January that he or she is referring a case to the Tribunal under section 14, the notice period expires at the end of the day on 12 February. Because the tenant cannot apply to the Tribunal until after the notice period has expired, the tenant cannot actually refer his or her case to the Tribunal until 13 February.

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Text created by the Scottish Executive department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Acts of the Scottish Parliament except those which result from Budget Bills

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