Tenant News

Interest-free hardship loan announced for Scottish tenants affected by COVID-19

Em Morley - September 3, 2020

The Scottish Government has developed an interest-free hardship loan scheme to support tenants needing to pay off rent arrears caused by COVID-19.

The Tenant Hardship Loan Fund is due to open later in the autumn, according to the Scottish Government website.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart has commented as part of the announcement made on 1st September: “Tackling inequality and supporting people is a central theme of this year’s Programme for Government and this package of support for tenants is part of that.

“We already know that the pandemic has hit the lowest earners hardest and the Scottish Government has already put in place a range of actions in place to support tenants.

“This new £10 million fund, along with a further increase in our Discretionary Housing Payment funds, will mean that no one should be left in a position where they cannot access support to pay their rent. The intention is that this fund will open in November for those unable to access other forms of support to help meet their housing costs.

“We have been clear that no landlord should evict a tenant because they have suffered financial hardship due to the pandemic. I fully expect landlords to be flexible with anyone facing such challenges, signposting them to the sources of financial support available, and tenants in difficulty should engage with their landlord and seek advice on the options open to them.

“I can confirm today that emergency legislation will be extended to ensure no evictions can take place until March 2021. However, since the initial legislation was introduced, we have listened carefully to tenants and housing authorities concerned that a three-month notice period is too long where tenants have behaved in an anti-social or criminal way. 

“We are therefore reverting back to a one-month period for repossession for such cases to ensure we can protect other tenants, neighbours and landlords who should not have to tolerate such behaviour.”

Chris Norris, Policy Director for the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), comments: “We welcome today’s (1st September) announcement which follows similar steps taken in Wales and we call on the UK Government to introduce similar help for tenants in England. The best way to prevent repossessions is to tackle the root cause by ensuring tenants are able to pay their rent.

“Although landlords have been doing all they can to support tenants struggling to pay their rent because of the pandemic, it is not sustainable to expect rent arrears to build indefinitely with no hope of paying them off.

“Once again the UK Government finds itself trailing behind the rest of the UK. It is time to deliver a similar scheme to support tenants and landlords in England.”