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Scots landlords welcome extra tenant support

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Announcement in Scotland of a £10m grant fund to support tenants struggling to pay their rent as a direct result of COVID-19 has brought with it a wave of agreement between the Scottish Government and landlord.

The new fund takes the Scottish Government’s total support for tenants during the pandemic to almost £39m.

Scottish landlords welcomed the additional support and also comments from the Scottish Government emphasising the responsibility of tenants to pay their rent.

The comments came in a joint statement signed by The Scottish Association of Landlords, PropertyMark, and The Scottish Government and follow last week’s extension of Scotland’s evictions ban until at least 31st March 2022.

‘There are many examples of private landlords and letting agents who have gone further than ever before to engage with tenants as more people find themselves in difficulty for the first time because of Covid’, said the statement.

‘As the country comes out of lockdown it is our shared commitment to make sure that tenants in hardship because of Covid continue to get support to pay their rent and living expenses and we will continue to work together collectively to ensure this is done.

‘The Scottish Government will continue to explore all options for policy and financial support to enable tenants to work with their landlords and letting agents; to be aware of their rights and responsibilities and support them to address financial hardship due to Covid-19. Alongside existing support of extended notice periods, Discretionary Housing Payments and the Tenant Hardship Loan Fund this will include a new £10m Grant Fund package to support tenants in crisis who are struggling to pay their rent because of financial difficulty caused by the pandemic and help landlords to support them’.

For the Scottish Association of Landlords, chief executive John Blackwood the overwhelming majority of tenants and landlords were working together to sustain tenancies and that eviction was only ever a last resort.

‘Our members have been working closely with tenants to reduce rents and write off arrears wherever possible’, he said.

‘We strongly welcome the £10m grant fund the Scottish Government has announced to help ensure tenants do not build up debt through rent arrears that they would struggle to repay. It is important landlords remain sensitive and constructive when working with their tenants, and that tenants struggling due to the pandemic speak to their landlord as early as possible’.

Housing Secretary Shona Robison also welcomed new joint statements from landlords and reaffirmation of commitment to supporting tenants facing difficulties during the pandemic.

‘We have been clear from the outset that eviction action must be an absolute last resort, when all other avenues have been exhausted and a tenancy is no longer sustainable, so I welcome these joint statements from across the rental sector.

‘The actions already taken by the Scottish Government, local authorities, housing associations and private landlords have been essential to avoiding evictions. Our new £10m grant fund to support those who are struggling to pay their rent will shore up these efforts and extend more support to those facing crisis due to the pandemic. We will work towards making the grant fund available later in the year, and we will work with stakeholders over the coming weeks to develop the details.

‘Paying rent is an important tenant responsibility, and tenants in financial hardship should engage directly with their landlord. When landlords are flexible with their tenants, signposting them to the range of financial support that is available and coming to agreements to prevent and manage rent arrears, this sustains tenancies and keeps people in their homes, benefitting everyone. These actions are crucial to move towards a sustainable and fair recovery from the impact of COVID-19’.