A new tribunal will be set up in Scotland to act as a specialist decision maker for disputes between landlords and tenants in the private rented sector, disappointing an industry body that’s calling for the inclusion of the social sector too.
The Scottish government said on Friday that jurisdiction for civil cases will be transferred from the sheriff courts to the PRS tribunal as part of plans to be included in its forthcoming housing bill.
It added the decision to introduce the tribunal comes following recent consultation exercises which highlighted access through the courts can be particularly difficult for those in the private rented sector.
Housing minister Margaret Burgess said: ‘Where parties cannot reach an agreement to resolve their dispute, someone else needs to step in. By introducing a specialist private rented sector tribunal tenants and landlords will benefit from a more accessible and specialist decision maker for their disputes. This will enable increased access to effective justice.’
However, the Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland said it was ‘naturally disappointed’ that the tribunal won’t include social rented housing cases at this stage.
David Bookbinder, head of policy and public affairs for CIH Scotland, said: ‘It is these cases that make up the majority of those being heard in the sheriff court and so would have the greatest impact in terms of providing better access to justice and reducing the burden on the court system.’
He added that the institute would ‘continue to argue for a housing tribunal system to operate across all housing tenures.’
The Scottish government said that its housing officials are also taking forward work to look at expanding the use of mediation for all tenures of rented housing disputes, which wouldn’t require legislation.
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