Tenant abandonment in Scotland

This information only applies in Scotland.

If a tenant moves out of a property before the tenancy has ended without letting their landlord know, the landlord can regain possession of the property and take on a new tenant. Before this can be done, the landlord will have to take certain steps to end the tenancy. Read this quick guide for more information on tenant abandonment in Scotland.

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Abandonment and private residential tenancies

On 1 December 2017, the law covering residential tenancies in Scotland changed. A new type of tenancy called a private residential tenancy was introduced, replacing assured and short assured tenancies. Any tenancy started on or after 1 December 2017 is a private residential tenancy.

A landlord can repossess the property if one of the 18 grounds of eviction applies. Ground 8 allows a landlord to evict their tenant where that tenant isn’t using the property as their main or only home. This is a mandatory ground for eviction, meaning that if the tribunal agrees with the landlord’s evidence, the tenant must leave the property. The landlord must follow the formal eviction procedure. For more information read Tenant evictions in Scotland FAQs.

Abandonment and assured and short assured tenancies

You must be granted a court order before repossessing the property and ending the tenancy agreement, even if it’s obvious the tenant has left the property.

How can I recover my property once it has been abandoned?

Landlords must raise an action to end the tenancy with the local sheriff court on the ground that the tenant has breached the agreement by abandoning the property. Abandonment notices will be served on the tenant by sheriff officers.

You must follow the formal procedure for ending the tenancy; otherwise, the tenant could return and claim they’ve been wrongfully evicted. This could leave you exposed to civil or criminal action, for example, liability to pay damages to the tenant.

What can I do after the tenancy has formally ended by court order?

You can enter the property, change the locks and arrange for a new tenant to move in.

What if my tenant has left property behind?

First, make a note of all the items and take photos. Second, try to contact the tenant to arrange for them to pick up their property. If you’ve no contact details, notify the police. If the tenant fails to collect their belongings within a reasonable time, and the total value of the property is less than storage costs, they can be disposed of.

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