THE National Trust for Scotland (NTS) has performed a U-turn after threatening to evict tenants in Dunkeld thanks to a major backlash from the community.

The organisation had handed Chris Claydon – who has lived in her property for 19 years - and her fellow tenant Scott Trotter a no-fault eviction notice after the pair highlighted some hairline cracks that were in need of repair.

Instead of temporarily moving them to a different property while the issue was fixed, NTS gave them a 'Notice to Quit', meaning they would’ve been forced to pack their bags amid a housing crisis.

But after Living Rent Dunkeld organised a protest against the “heartless” move and delivered a strongly-worded letter from the community directly to the charity, bosses have rowed back on their plans.

Stuart Maxwell, the NTS regional director for Edinburgh and the East of Scotland, said while the repairs are essential, they are not urgent and can be postponed until Claydon and Trotter have found somewhere else to live or the charity is in a position to offer a vacant property for temporary use.

If the tenants do end up moving into a temporary NTS property, the organisation has said they will be able to return to their home once the works are complete.

Claydon said she was relieved the eviction notice had been withdrawn but insisted the NTS needs to make changes to ensure other tenants do not go through the same ordeal. 

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She said: “Eviction destroys lives. This whole experience has been horrendous.

"The prospect of losing our home left me really struggling at times, it was the support of Scott, our families, our friends, our wonderful community, and Living Rent that got me through this.

"I hope the NTS makes changes to ensure no other tenants are made to experience the same.

"We plan to continue to work with both Living Rent and the community to ensure greater protection for everyone who lives here in the future.

The National: Protestors got creative with their placards as a letter was delivered to the NTS Protestors got creative with their placards as a letter was delivered to the NTS

"We have shown what direct, collective action can achieve. We hope that we can continue to work together with the NTS, in good faith, in the future to ensure the voices of our community are heard and respected. Power to the people.”

Lachlan MacEwan, chair of Dunkeld and Birnam Community Council, added “We are pleased to see the beginning of a resolution to this situation. We look forward to meeting with the NTS soon to discuss how we can work more closely with them in the future for the benefit of the community."

Living Rent said it will continue to seek assurances on the future protection of the tenancy.

The tenants union said since the National's coverage of the situation, it has been contacted by people who went through similar situations as tenants of the NTS and their stories "did not have the same happy ending".

A statement from Living Rent added: "We hope anyone else who is put in a similar position will reach out to Living Rent in future. We have shown that together we can fight this."

The letter to NTS was signed by Rev. Fraser Penny – minister of Dunkeld Parish Church – as well as the community council and local elected members.

The NTS has restored many 17th and 18th-century properties in the Perthshire town and now lets them out.

Given Claydon and Trotter are on an outdated Short Assured Tenancy Agreement, the NTS is unfortunately still able to evict them without giving a reason.

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Such an agreement can only be held by people who moved into their property before December 1, 2017. They are awarded for a fixed length of time and if landlords want their tenant to leave at the end of it, they have to do so and the landlord does not have to give a reason – in other words, a no-fault eviction.

No-fault evictions have been banned in Scotland for any tenancies starting after that date.

Some years ago Claydon and Trotter, along with other NTS tenants in Dunkeld, asked the NTS to upgrade its tenancies to the Private Residential Tenancies that have been deemed standard in Scotland since 2017, but the organisation refused.

More recently the NTS joined a list of other organisations lobbying the Scottish Government against extending the powers of protection to tenants from eviction.

Maxwell said in statement: “My colleagues spent time with the tenants and explained that we had already doubled the notice period to give them more time to find suitable alternative accommodation. 

“They in turn told us that in current market conditions they were finding such accommodation very difficult to find.

“While the repairs are essential and it’s unavoidable that they must be carried out at some point, there is no immediate risk to either the tenants or the structure.  

“We will therefore postpone the repairs to give the tenants time to find somewhere else to live, or we ourselves are in a position to offer a vacant property for temporary use, with the opportunity for them to return to the original tenancy once works are complete.”