FURIOUS residents in Dunkeld are urging the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) to think again after threatening two tenants with a “heartless” eviction in the midst of a housing crisis.

The NTS has 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 out while the issue is fixed, the organisation – which has restored many 17th and 18th century houses in the town and rented them out - has given them a 'Notice to Quit'.

Given Claydon and Trotter are on an outdated Short Assured Tenancy Agreement, the NTS is unfortunately still able to evict them without giving a reason.

But Living Rent Dunkeld has decided to take action and will deliver a letter on Friday to NTS staff signed by the tenants and several members of the community asking them to look at alternative solutions.

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

With homes in the Highlands rapidly being lost to long-term tenants to become holiday lets, Living Rent has begged NTS not to push Claydon and Trotter – who have never missed a rent payment – away from their beloved community.

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Claydon said: “I feel devastated.

“I really love my home and I really love Dunkeld. It’s horrendous. We’re not sleeping, we’re not able to work.”

John Ferguson, neighbour, Living Rent member and Church of Scotland elder, said: “Chris and Scott are valued and loved members of this close-knit community.

“They have both in many different and practical ways, over many years, contributed kindness and support to neighbours and those in need of support.

“At a time of such social stress and with no apparent incontrovertible good reason, the eviction notice of the NTS is a heartless and inexcusable action to be taking.”

Short Assured Tenancy Agreements 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.

When Claydon and Trotter noticed some cracks in their property they fulfilled their obligations under the tenancy agreement and informed their landlords, the NTS.

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Since then, there have been varying messages of how the situation would proceed, with NTS jumping from a suggestion of monitoring the cracks to the tenants being asked to leave.

Living Rent has said there is no suggestion in the structural engineer’s report the house could not be reoccupied once works have been completed and have also highlighted there is an empty property owned by NTS the tenants could live in while repairs take place.

The report – seen by the National - confirms there has been a “degree of structural movement” in the property and the flat would have to be vacated for repairs, but it does not appear to state the tenants must move out permanently.

NTS staff have reportedly told Living Rent they will “consider their options” in terms of a future use of the property and it is possible it may not return to being residential accommodation.

Rev. Penny said: “Chris Claydon has over many years provided care for foster children, currently sits on the Children’s Panel and is a well-known member of our local community. I would ask the NTS to reconsider its eviction action.”

Lachlan MacEwan, Dunkeld and Birnam Community Council chair, added: “The NTS have acted in a most unfair manner.

“This is an issue created solely by NTS and one that only the NTS can resolve.

“The concern the community has at the moment, is yes, the plight that Chris and Scott have, but not only that, it is the concern of all the other residents that are in the area that have the same lease or a similar lease”.

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.

A spokesperson for the NTS said: “The National Trust for Scotland has had to seek vacant possession of this property to enable essential structural works to take place, as we are required to do, both as a private landlord and as a conservation charity.

"Unfortunately, we do not have any suitable alternative accommodation available to offer at this time. We have doubled the notice period to give the tenants more time to find suitable alternative accommodation. We appreciate this is a difficult situation and have tried to be as clear and open as we can with our communications on this issue and have offered to meet previously.”