May 2020 – Coronavirus No 2 Act – a smorgasbord

Author: Mitchells Roberton
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The BPU for last month here focused on the fact that the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 made no  emergency provisions about the signing of wills during lockdown but explained that the Law Society had stepped in and provided guidance on how to go about this.

The Coronavirus (Scotland)(No 2) Act 2020 (“the No. 2 Act”)

The No. 2 Act, which came into force on 26th May, doesn’t include anything about signing wills either. But it does contain various provisions addressing other difficulties arising from the coronavirus outbreak. This note aims to highlight a few of those.

The overall scheme of the No. 2 Act

  • First, it adjusts some of the laws aimed at protecting individuals to ensure their effective operation during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Secondly, it makes adjustments to criminal procedure, and to other aspects of the justice system, so that essential justice business can continue to be dealt with during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Thirdly, it makes various provisions aimed at ensuring that business and public services can continue to operate effectively while restrictions are in place.
  • This note doesn’t touch on all the many aspects of the No. 2 Act but picks out an eclectic clutch of a few.

Student residential lets

  • Many students have had to return to their family homes. If they were living in the mainstream private rented sector they will generally have been able to end their tenancies early by giving their landlord 28 days’ notice (under the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016).
  • But that will not have been so for some students living in purpose built student accommodation not covered by the provisions of 2016 Act. Some of these students may have been tied into student accommodation contracts for lengthy periods and so having to pay for accommodation which they cannot use.
  • In order to cover such situations the No. 2 Act introduces: a 7-day notice to leave period for those currently tied into a student accommodation contract; and a 28-day notice to leave period for contracts entered into while these new provisions are in force.

Carer’s allowance

  • Around 83,000 unpaid carers in Scotland receive carer’s allowance, and the Scottish Government considers that they are “more likely to be in the lower income deciles and have poorer health and educational outcomes”.
  • So, unpaid carers who receive carer’s allowance are to be given some extra financial support due to the loss of income and increased costs many will face as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.  The extra support is to be known as Coronavirus Carer’s Allowance Supplement and will be paid for the period from 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020.

Extension of period of listed building consent and conservation area consent

  • Works permitted by listed building consent (“LBC”) and conservation area consent (“CAC”) must normally be started within three years of consent being given (under The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997).  Otherwise, the consent lapses.
  • Advice that construction should not proceed during the coronavirus outbreak means, of course, that some works will be unable to start within the usual  LBC and CAC time-frame.
  • So, consents that are due to lapse during the “emergency period” (i.e. the period beginning with the coming into force of the No. 2 Act and ending on 6 October 2020) will instead lapse at the end of an extended period ending on 6 April  2021.

Additional dwelling supplement or “ADS”

  • If a homeowner buys a replacement main residence before selling their old main residence there will be a time when they own two residences. So, there will normally be a tax (known as “Additional Dwelling Supplement” or “ADS”) on buying the replacement. That ADS may however be reclaimed if they then sell their old residence within 18 months.
  • The No. 2 Act makes provision to help taxpayers whose ability to reclaim ADS has been most directly affected by the coronavirus outbreak. For particular taxpayers, it increases the period within which they can sell their old residence and still be eligible for a repayment of the ADS on buying a replacement residence from 18 months to 27 months.
  • The provisions apply to taxpayers who paid ADS in relation to buying a replacement residence with an “effective date” before 25 March 2020 but not more than 18 months before 25 March 2020.

Note: This material is for information purposes only and does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by us. You should not rely upon it in making any decisions or taking or refraining from taking any action. If you would like us to advise you on any of the matters covered in this material, please contact Paul Neilly: email pdn@mitchells-roberton.co.uk

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