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CV-19 affects Landlords - what the government expects

19th March 2020

The Scottish Government issued a statement about Rented Accommodation. We have extracted from the statement information relevant to private landlords.  Emergency legislation is being rushed through Parliament.

“This is a time for all landlords – whether in social or private sector – to be flexible and adaptable to their tenants at a time of both national crisis and possibly personal crisis.

Tenants, if you are experiencing issues paying your rent, please go straight to your landlord and explain them. Because we as a government, and society as a whole, need landlords to help their tenants immediately as part of an overall society response. We cannot have people being made or at risk of being made homeless at this difficult time. …..

In the private sector, landlords will need to be equally supportive at during this public health crisis. We need to get the balance right between protecting tenants and ensuring landlords can continue to provide housing.

To support this, we will address, through legislation, a temporary change in the current Private Housing (Tenancies) Act.  Currently landlords can move to eviction if a tenant is in arrears for at least three months in a row and if at least one month rent is unpaid.  At present, first tier Housing Tribunals will not uphold this if the reason for non-payment of rent is a delay or failure in the payment to tenants of welfare benefits such as housing benefit or universal credit.

This is a crucial part of our current legislative protection. But this temporary change we will make goes further and will increase that rent arrears period from the current three months to six months.

We do not want private sector landlords to be disadvantaged by a lack of rent. However, the reality of what we face means that if landlords don’t support their tenants, then it’s not just the tenants who will be negatively impacted, it will be all of society who will have to collectively pay for the price.

We know that many landlords have mortgages. And we know that the banks have agreed a three month mortgage holiday. We commend this and we urge private landlords who need this facility to apply for it.

But we need more. We need this to be increased to six months and to provide for all mortgages including buy to rent. So I have written to UK Finance and the UK Government urging them to move to providing 6 month mortgage holidays for all mortgages. Such a move would help tenants and landlords across the UK needing this vital support.”

Again we will need to see how this all unfolds, but in the meantime, if you have concerns, speak to us.

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