Tenants and landlords can apply for support beyond 31 March.
Tenants and private sector landlords facing financial difficulties caused by the pandemic have more time to access support after two loan schemes were extended.
The Tenant Hardship Loan Fund and the Private Rent Sector Landlord (non-business) COVID-19 Loan Scheme, both of which offer interest-free loans, will continue to receive applications beyond the original deadline of 31 March 2021.
It comes after Housing Minister Kevin Stewart extended temporary regulations banning the enforcement of eviction orders in the private and social rented sectors, giving further safeguards to tenants during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
Mr Stewart said:
“Throughout this pandemic our focus has been on enabling people to stay safe in their homes while the lockdown restrictions needed to suppress the virus are in place.
“These loan schemes have provided vital support as part of our broader effort to help those facing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19. For the majority of tenants facing financial difficulties and arrears the best means of support continues to be regular non-repayable support, for example through Universal Credit and Discretionary Housing Payments. However, for those who may fall through the gap and are unable to claim such support, these funds offer a helping hand to manage any rent issues that have arisen in the last few months as a result of COVID-19.
“We have been clear that no landlord should evict a tenant because they have suffered financial hardship due to the pandemic and that tenants in difficulty should engage with their landlord and seek advice on the options open to them.”
The Tenant Hardship Loan Fund is designed to help people who have had their finances or employment impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and do not have other means of housing support.
The Scottish Government wants people to access the most appropriate form of financial support and the loan will not always be the best option for people who are facing difficulty. The loan is repayable and many tenants may be entitled to non-repayable support, for example through Universal Credit and Discretionary Housing Payments. Before applying for a loan, tenants are encouraged to seek independent advice to ensure they are getting all the non-repayable financial support they are entitled to.
The loans are available for social and private tenants up to a maximum of nine months’ rent costs covering rent arrears and future rent, where those arrears have arisen since 1 January 2020 (the loan will not be available where a tenant had rent arrears before this date). The loan can include up to a maximum of three months of future rent payments as part of the nine-month total.
The Private Rent Sector Landlord COVID-19 Loan Scheme will offer eligible landlords up to 100% of lost rental income for up to three properties. It will support private sector landlords who are not classified as businesses, have five or fewer properties to rent and have lost rental income due to tenants being unable to pay rent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Applications for the Tenant Hardship Loan Fund and the Private Rent Sector Landlord (non-business) COVID-19 Loan Scheme can be completed online.
Both schemes form part of the range of support and interventions in response to the pandemic, including the extended notice periods within the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act, introduction of private landlord pre-action requirements and the increases to Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs). Regulations extending the current ban on the enforcement of eviction orders in the private and social rented sectors beyond 31 March came into force on 5 March. These regulations will be subject to review every 21 days.