Scotland’s rent support loan scheme has now opened for applications while the English Government has yet to emulate either this or the Welsh version.
The £10 million Tenant Hardship Loan Fund offers interest-free loans to tenants struggling with rent arrears whose finances or work have been impacted by the pandemic but who can’t claim benefits.
Tenants can get up to a maximum of nine months’ rent costs covering rent arrears and up to three months of future rent, as long as the arrears started after 1st January.
Repayments will be deferred for six months as standard and repaid over five years.
Housing Minister Kevin Stewart (pictured) says that for the majority of tenants facing financial difficulties and arrears, regular non-repayable support, such as Universal Credit and Discretionary Housing Payments is best.
He adds: “However, for those who may fall through the gap and are unable to claim such support, or who might be thinking of borrowing, this new fund will be a helping hand to manage any rent issues that have arisen in the last few months as a result of the impact of COVID-19.”
Applicants get an affordability assessment to look at their incomings and outgoings while the process highlights that there might be other more appropriate financial help available.
It’s part of a package of measures for the private rented sector introduced by the Scottish government which is the best offered by the four governments of the UK. This includes extended notice periods, introduction of private landlord pre-action requirements, increases to Discretionary Housing Payments, and interest free loans for landlords.
Wales launched its version – The Tenant Saver Loan Scheme – in October but there’s still no sign of a similar scheme in England, despite calls from the National Residential Landlords Association and housing charities.