The Scottish Government has announced a new £10m fund to support people struggling to pay their rent due to financial difficulty associated with COVID-19.
The Tenant Hardship Loan Fund is due to open in November and will offer interest-free loans to those unable to access other forms of support for their housing costs.
The Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) fund, which helps tenants in receipt of benefits, will increase by £3m, bringing the total to £19m.
This is in addition to the £60m DHP budget already being used to fully mitigate the bedroom tax.
Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “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 £10m 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.”
Reduced notice periods
In addition to the Tenant Hardship Loan Fund, emergency legislation to protect private and social tenants from eviction during the pandemic has been extended by six months.
But ministers have also introduced new regulations to allow for the notice period for eviction for anti-social or criminal behaviour to return to one month.
Stewart said: “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.”