The bill currently provides that, for the abandonment eviction ground to be met, the tribunal must be satisfied that the tenant is not occupying a property as his or her only or principal home, and requires the landlord to provide evidence to that effect.
In practice, a landlord will need to provide the tenant with a notice to leave to indicate that they intend to seek an eviction on the ground of abandonment. From receiving the notice, a tenant will have 28 days to tell the landlord that he or she is or is not living in the let property. To pursue the matter further, the landlord would have to apply to the tribunal to grant repossession on that ground. The tribunal must be satisfied that the ground has been met, and it can call the landlord and the tenant to provide evidence.
I know that, as Dave Stewart said, some stakeholders have raised concerns that a tenant could be evicted when they have gone away from their home only temporarily, but that should not happen. The existing provisions would enable a tenant to be temporarily absent from the property and the property still to be considered to be the tenant’s only or principal home.
David Stewart’s amendment 108 would require a landlord to issue two separate notices. Before a landlord could issue a notice to leave, he or she would be required to issue a different notice that stated that they had reason to believe that the tenant was no longer occupying the property as their only or principal home, and the tenant would have four weeks to indicate whether they were occupying the property. That is completely unnecessary and would only duplicate the contents of the notice to leave that would be issued subsequently. As well as adding an additional layer of bureaucracy, amendment 108 could delay the process.
I also consider amendment 108 to be deficient: there is a loophole in the drafting. As drafted, it would allow a landlord to provide a tenant with a notice that met Mr Stewart’s requirements; and, immediately after doing so, they could serve the required notice to leave. In those circumstances, the landlord would have done all that Mr Stewart’s amendment technically requires.
Therefore, I ask members not to support amendment 108.