COVID-19 Financial Assistance for Landlords

The Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL), our ombudsman, is pleased that due to our lobbying the Scottish Government has today announced that they will be offering financial assistance to landlords who suffer a loss of income as a result of the coronavirus crisis. The interest free loans should be available by the end of April. SAL will provide more details of this when we have them.

Our policy team is aware that a loan is not as good as a grant. This is obviously not as beneficial a support as members would choose, however it is a significant and hard won concession which we must welcome, particularly with it being interest free while bank finance remains relatively high cost for those who need it. It is worth noting this is available for landlords letting in Scotland only. So far there has been no such support for landlords made available in England and Wales.

Working with long term tenancies only, we obviously do not wish to be ending tenancies but with the current market we appreciate this may be on your mind. In response to the coronavirus crisis, Scottish Ministers have today approved legislation which makes changes to the eviction procedure for tenancies in the private and social rented sector. Initially these changes will apply from when the legislation receives Royal Assent (expected to be early next week – we will advise members when this is obtained) until 30 September 2020 but there is provision in the legislation for the end date to be changed.

Please note that the changes detailed below do not apply to any evictions where the landlord served notice on the tenant before the date the legislation receives Royal Assent.

During the period detailed above all evictions will be discretionary, which means that if the tenant doesn’t voluntarily vacate and the landlord has to apply for an eviction order at the tribunal, the tribunal may decide to exercise a reasonableness test in deciding whether to evict the tenant or not. In simple terms, this means that the tribunal will decide based on the circumstances of the case whether the tenant’s need/right to occupy the property is outweighed by the landlord’s need/right to repossess the property.

The legislation also makes changes to the notice period that the landlord is required to give the tenant. The notice period depends on the type of tenancy and the eviction ground being used.

Members should also be aware that the Housing and Property Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal that deals with eviction cases, will not be hearing cases until at least 28 May but this could be much longer.

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