The Scottish Government has announced a new £10 million grant scheme for private tenants struggling to pay their rent as a direct consequence of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The fund is the latest form of financial support made available to Scottish tenants in arrears, and it aims at ensuring that evictions are used as a last resort.
It follows the launch of the £10 million Tenant Hardship Loan Fund in December 2020, offering interest free loans, and takes the Scottish Government’s total support for tenants during COVID-19 to almost £39 million.
Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, said: “The Scottish Government has taken action from the outset to support tenants during the pandemic and I’m delighted to announce today that we will go even further by committing to introduce a new £10 million grant fund to support tenants who have fallen into rent arrears as a direct result of the pandemic.”
He added: “We will work towards making this grant fund available later in the year and will work with stakeholders over the coming weeks to develop the details.”
Ban on evictions extended
The announcement follows recent extension of the current ban on the enforcement of eviction orders in Scotland until 31st March 2022, with the potential to be further extended to 30th September 2022. Reviews will be held every two months.
Daryl McIntosh, ARLA Propertymark Policy Manager for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, commented: “Many landlords who have been personally affected by the pandemic are already in the position where selling properties is their only viable option and extending the Bill raises concerns that many landlords could exit the market out of frustration.”
He added: “The Scottish Government have to review the measures every two months and we will continue to provide case studies and evidence which highlight agents and landlords’ experiences in the sector, with a view to redressing the balance.”
The Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) highlights that the number of eviction applications in the private rented sector has dropped by 53% in the past 15 months and calls on the Scottish Government to recognise the sector’s excellent and supportive work.
SAL Chief Executive, John Blackwood, said: “Landlords are clear that it is in their best interests to be as flexible as possible in order to sustain tenancies and avoid eviction action being taken.”
He added: “From our analysis of rent arrears eviction cases, it is evident that the existing eviction rules requiring landlords to give six months’ notice have sadly made matters worse for tenants who have accumulated rent arrears that they will struggle to pay off in the future.”