Notice of Proceedings for Possession

Orders of the Day — Housing (Scotland) Bill – in the House of Commons at 11:15 pm on 29th March 1988.

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Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson , East Lothian 11:15 pm, 29th March 1988

I beg to move amendment No. 22, in page 12, leave out lines 35 to 38 and insert 'two months'.

Subsection (4) provides for eviction with as little as two weeks' notice on certain grounds. The amendment would extend that to a minimum of two months, which would allow at least some scope for a family to find another home. Two weeks is surely grossly unreasonable and inadequate, and I hope the Minister will give this issue some thought.

Photo of Lord James Douglas-Hamilton Lord James Douglas-Hamilton , Edinburgh West

We have given careful consideration to this matter following the debate in Committee, and we are not persuaded to change the clause. Here, as elsewhere in part II of the Bill, it is important to strike the right balance between the interests of those concerned. The landlord should be able to regain possession of his property without undue delay, provided he can establish his claim to possession, while the tenant expects to be give reasonable notice of proceedings.

These interests are not easily reconciled, and we take the view that the notice of proceedings should be longer in some cases than in others. That is why clause 19 specifies two minimum periods: two months for one set of grounds for possession and two weeks for the other set. The grounds, which will be subject to a minimum notice of two weeks, are grounds on which the landlord is, in our view, entitled to obtain quicker repossession. These grounds are, broadly speaking, where the tenant is at fault.

A two-week notice of proceedings for possession will seldom lead to eviction in two weeks. In the first place, there will usually be a delay between the expiry of the notice and the court hearing. Then, if the sheriff decides to grant possession on one of the discretionary grounds — which, with the amendments which the House has just accepted, will be all but three of the grounds to which the two-week limit applies — he can delay the date of possession as he sees fit. So the Government are not convinced that the change proposed should be made.

Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson , East Lothian

The Minister has enunciated the rather alarming principle that always, if in doubt, back the landlord, even if that involves putting a tenant out of his house with only two weeks' notice.

Amendment negatived.

Amendment made: No. 35, in page 12, line 35, leave out '1 to 3, 6, 8, 9' and insert '2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 11A'. — [Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.]