Update on private rented sector cases and residential tenancies
On 1 December 2017, new legislation came into force which transferred jurisdiction in relation to applications in Private Sector Rented Cases and Private Residential Tenancies to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland Housing and Property Chamber. Civil cases relating to the private rented sector are no longer dealt with in the Sheriff Court. Fees were charged in the Sheriff Court but they are not charged in relation to these tribunal applications. The tribunal has provided an update for practitioners on the operation of the new regime.
The new jurisdictions gave rise to a much higher volume of cases than was anticipated and some stakeholders may, regrettably, have experienced administrative delays. This is due to the unanticipated pressure the teams have been placed under, whilst trying to process a significantly higher than predicted volume of cases. We are working hard to reduce the waiting times.
The jurisdictions received 700 applications between 1 December 2017 and 31 March 2018. Between 1 April 2018 and 30 November 2018 they received 2,103 applications. This is a total of 2,792 cases in a twelve month period.
Timescales are improving as we recruit and train more administrative staff to assist with processing the higher volume of cases. However, there may continue to be some delays over the coming months.
The most common question the jurisdiction receives is:
“How long will it take to get an outcome?”
The time taken from an application being received to reach an outcome varies on a case by case basis. This is because a number of different factors can affect this timescale including:
- whether the application is complete;
- co-operation of the parties;
- response times from parties;
- whether representations are received from the parties;
- whether the facts are disputed;
- whether there is a dispute as to the applicable law; and
- whether the tribunal requires further information in order to make a decision.
When an application is received it is referred to the Chamber President (or another legal member under the delegated authority of the Chamber President) who will decide whether the application is suitable to be referred to a tribunal for a determination.
If the application is referred to a tribunal the next step will likely involve a case management discussion. A case management discussion is a discussion between the tribunal and the parties about aspects of the case with a view to identifying the issues and achieving efficient resolution of the dispute.
Accordingly, at a case management discussion the tribunal will want to identify the issue/s; identify what facts are agreed; raise with parties issues it requires to be addressed; discuss whether or not a full hearing is required; and it may be able to make a decision on the case. Case management discussions or hearings will normally take place at a hearing venue and parties will be expected to attend or alternatively a teleconference can be arranged.
We will aim to arrange any case management discussion or hearing as soon as possible. However, the Housing and Property Chamber is required by legislation to provide a minimum notice period to parties. We must also account for the availability of tribunal members and the availability of tribunal venues when arranging a case management discussion.