Housing minister Kevin Stewart says no tenant should be evicted after suffering financial hardship due to Coronavirus.
Scotland is likely to become the first country within the UK to prevent landlords evicting tenants as the Coronavirus pandemic worsens.
The announcement this morning by Scottish housing minister Kevin Stewart is in response to calls made to him by campaigning group Living Rent, which over the past three days has gathered 1,300 signatures for a petition calling for landlords to pause evictions and also grant tenants a ‘rent holiday’.
Stewart has confirmed that the Scottish government is ‘actively considering’ such measures, and follows the decision by authorities and landlords in New York that evictions are to be suspended within the state for three months.
“No landlord should evict a tenant because they have suffered financial hardship due to coronavirus and we are actively considering how best this can be addressed,” says Stewart.
“This is part of our urgent consideration on what wider measures can be put in place to support people against the economic impacts of coronavirus and further announcements will be made.
“People affected by coronavirus who are concerned about paying their rent can claim Universal Credit from the Department for Work and Pensions which includes support for housing costs, if eligible.
Living Rent’s David Hanson, who launched the petition, says: “If we’re serious about containing the spread of the virus, tenants need to know that they won’t face destitution for doing the responsible thing.
“That has to mean stopping rent collections for anyone affected – both those who are unable to work or who need to self-isolate – and making sure nobody faces the threat of homelessness or having to find another home during this time.”
Paul Shamplina of eviction specialist Landlord Action, says the detail of an eviction ban or ‘free rent’ period need to be thought through carefully before being implemented.
“Landlords will HAVE to be given a mortgage holiday if they are to suspend rental payments, and there will have to be some sort of medical screening process before an evictions ban is introduced, but the health service is already under immense pressure as it is. These are worrying times because, on both counts, we don’t know how long the virus will be around.”