Due to COVID-19, temporary measures have been taken by the Scottish Government to help tenants from being evicted. There have been growing concerns, however, that rent arrears will significantly increase during the current lockdown, and when restrictions are lifted the private rented sector will see a large rise in evictions.
To help landlords and agents through this challenging period, a guide has been jointly created between the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL), Chartered Institute of Housing for Scotland (CIH) and Homes for Good (Scotland’s first social enterprise letting agency). The new guidance was designed to give advice on how landlords and agents can protect their income and provide support to their tenants to avoid them risking eviction once the restrictions end. The guide encourages landlords to be proactive and establish supportive communication with their tenants to help prevent rent arrears where possible.
Legal requirements differ between Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The publication includes links for each country’s legal requirements and government guidance for private landlords.
Chief Executive of SAL, John Blackwood said: “We have been working closely with our members and others since the beginning of this crisis to protect landlords and allow them to help their tenants as much as they can. This guidance is another key part of that support but the private rented sector will need more from government over the coming weeks if we are to maintain an adequate supply of high-quality homes for rent.”
“The last thing we want to see is a surge in evictions…”
National Director of CIH Scotland, Callum Chomczuk, explained: “We welcome measures from the Scottish Government to make sure no one is evicted during this time but we need to make sure that tenants are still able to pay their rent and that they get support if they need it. The last thing we want to see is a surge in evictions at the end of the coronavirus outbreak.
He continued: “While most landlords and tenants are doing their best to adjust to difficult circumstances it is inevitable that some will need more help than others. The UK Government has introduced some changes to support wages or access benefits such as Universal Credit, but this will be a completely new experience for a lot of people.
“The social rented sector is already well placed to support people who need extra help and we wanted to share some of that learning, working together with Homes for Good and SAL to publish practical guidance for private landlords and letting agents.”
Executive Director of Homes for Good, Susan Aktemel, added: “As a unique letting agency which combines looking after our landlords’ properties with providing extensive support for our tenants, at Homes for Good we have worked quickly to put additional measures in place, particularly around navigating the benefits system for the first time and managing rent payments. We are really pleased to share our experience through the creation of this guidance.”