A new service designed to help tenants and landlords experiencing rent arrears as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has been launched.
SafeDeposits Scotland, the Glasgow-based tenancy deposit scheme, has created this service that will seek to negotiate rent repayment agreements between landlords and tenants. The aim is to help reduce the likelihood of tenants being evicted and ensure landlords can recover some, if not all, of the arrears over an agreed period.
Once a satisfactory resolution has been reached by all parties, SafeDeposits Scotland will draft up a settlement agreement that sets out what has been agreed between the tenants and landlord.
The system is free to use and is available to all landlords and tenants, regardless of whether their deposit is protected by SafeDeposits Scotland or not.
Mike Smith, operations manager at SafeDeposits Scotland, comments: “COVID-19 has put the private rented sector under huge pressure. For example, many tenants renting in this sector have experienced redundancy, wage cuts, or being put on furlough, leaving them unable to keep up with rental payments.
“Citizens Advice Scotland recently reported that it had seen a 300% increase in the proportion of advice given on private rent arrears between February and July.
“The Scottish Government introduced emergency legislation in April to extend the eviction notice period for tenants having trouble paying rent to six months. But despite measures like this, Universal Credit and other various government schemes, people in both private and public housing accommodation are still struggling to pay rent.
“This is why we’ve introduced our resolution service to help alleviate the financial pressures caused by the pandemic, and ultimately help tenants avoid eviction and help landlords secure income.
“From our conversations with our private rented sector landlords, we know many have made significant steps to ease the financial burden tenants have experienced, but there’s still a long way to go.
“Any landlords that are trying to agree manageable rent payment plans with their tenants should get in touch with our team now. We will do all we can to find the most suitable approach to suit all parties involved.”
To access the service, landlords or tenants need to complete an online resolution referral form. The system will then provide written documentation outlining the attempts to resolve the rent arrears. If both parties agree to engage, a telephone appointment will be arranged where a mutually acceptable rent repayment plan will be discussed.