02 Apr 2020

Covid-19: Package of support for landlords approved

Covid-19: Package of support for landlords approved

The Scottish Parliament has unanimously approved a package of financial and legislative support to help landlords ride out the COVID-19 crisis.

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill – which will come into force once it receives Royal Ascent in the coming days - adjusts the law on evictions to protect people renting their homes.

And to prevent any financial hardship being passed on to landlords, the Scottish Government is launching a private loan fund for those who experience difficulty securing rent.

Eligible private landlords who apply to the fund will be offered an interest-free loan with deferred payments.

Tenant protection

Under the emergency legislation, tenants in Scotland will be given six months’ notice prior to eviction if they are facing difficulties as a result of coronavirus – for example if the tenant is being evicted from their home due to rent arrears.

However, landlords in Scotland will still be able to evict tenants with three months’ notice if they are being evicted under other circumstances – if the tenant has engaged in anti-social behaviour, for example.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said the package sought to strike a balance between the needs of both tenants and landlords.

“The intention is to take the pressure off landlords, in the short-term, if their tenants are having difficulty making rent payments,” he said.

“We expect to have that fund in place by the end of April, at the latest.

“The measures that are being proposed in the bill seek to find the right balance between protecting tenants from eviction due to financial pressures arising from the pandemic, and ensuring that landlords across the private and social sector can continue to operate effectively.”

Loan fund welcomed

Adrian Sangster, National Lettings Director at Aberdein Considine, welcomed the loan fund, which he said will ease concerns in the private rented sector.

“Many landlords have felt that they have fallen between the cracks of previous announcements – but the addition of a loan fund to the extended eviction periods is good news.

“Government stepping in to help landlords is an unusual step, but these are very unusual and fast-moving times.

“Whilst a loan is not as good as a grant, it is interest free and better than anything on offer elsewhere in the UK at present.”

Changes imminent 

The majority of the emergency measures in the Coronavirus Bill will expire automatically six months after they come into force (which is the point they receive Royal Ascent).

The Scottish Parliament may extend the measures for two further periods of six months, giving the measures in the Bill a maximum duration of 18 months.

The Scottish Government will provide a report to Parliament every two months about the use of these emergency powers.

Meanwhile, the government has also confirmed that it will defer the roll-out of new energy efficiency rules

The Energy Efficiency (Domestic Private Rented Property) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 were due to come into force on 1st April 2020 and required all properties in Scotland’s private rented sector to have a minimum EPC rating of E at a start of tenancy from 1 October 2020.

This has now been postponed indefinitely due to Coronavirus.

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