Coronavirus and your home (Scotland)
Help if you rent your home
The Housing and Property Chamber has rescheduled hearings that had previously been postponed due to coronavirus. If your case had been postponed, you will be notified when you should attend the Tribunal.
All mandatory grounds for eviction have become discretionary. This means that the Tribunal that decides whether you should be evicted, can decide not to if they wish.
The Government has introduced temporary rules that mean, in most cases evictions will not be carried out by sheriff officers in Tier 3 and Tier 4 areas until 30 September 2021. There are some exceptions, such as where the eviction was granted due to anti-social or criminal behaviour.
If you are contacted by a sheriff officer who is threatening eviction, contact Shelter Scotland for help.
The Scottish Government has also passed a temporary law to protect tenants in Scotland during the coronavirus period. In most cases, your landlord needs to give you six months' notice before they can start legal action to evict you. The new rules will be in place until at least 31 March 2021. There are some exceptions, such as where a landlord is ending the tenancy due to antisocial and criminal behaviour or because the landlord or their family need to move into the property. More information can be found at Shelter Scotland.
If you are a private tenant, new rules also came into force on 1 October 2020 which cover the process a landlord should follow if they are considering repossession action against you.
- Your landlord should provide you with clear information about the terms of the tenancy, the amount of arrears and your rights in relation to the repossession proceedings.
- Your landlord should try to agree a reasonable plan to with you. They should consider affordability, taking into account your personal and financial circumstances.
- You should be allowed time to consider and seek advice on any proposed payment plan.
- A full list of the pre-action requirements that your landlord now needs to follow can be found on the GOV.SCOT website.
To help with negotiations, SafeDeposits Scotland has a free resolution service. Either you or your landlord can approach them and their aim is to try to stop tenants being evicted.
The Scottish Government has produced a private rented sector (PRS) tenant resource which has detailed information on dealing with rent arrears during the coronavirus pandemic.
If your landlord is unhelpful and you need more support, contact Shelter Scotland on 0808 800 4444.
The Tenant Hardship Loan Fund
The Scottish Government fund offers interest-free loans to private and social sector tenants who are struggling to pay their rent because of the impact of coronavirus.
The fund can be used to cover up to a maximum of nine months of your rent costs. This can include:
- rent arrears that have built up since 1 January 2020; and
- up to three months future rent payments.
For more information and a link to the online application form, see GOV.SCOT.
Discretionary Housing Payment
If you claim Housing Benefit or Universal Credit with help towards housing costs, you may be able to get a Discretionary Housing Payment. A Discretionary Housing Payment can give you extra money to pay towards your rent. To apply, contact your local council. Check whether you can claim online.
Help with your mortgage
The Government has introduced temporary rules. This means that while your mortgage lender can take you to court, no eviction action should be taken if you live in a Tier 3 or Tier 4 area until 30 September 2021.
The FCA has issued several pieces of guidance for requesting a payment holiday if you are affected by coronavirus and struggling to pay your mortgage. The most recent guidance includes the following support.
If you already have an existing payment holiday in place
You can extend your payment holiday up to 31 July 2021, but only if:
- it doesn’t go over the six-month payment holiday limit; and
- there is no break in the support.
The payment holiday will not be recorded on your credit file. However, some lenders may review your bank account if you apply for more credit. As a result, in some cases this could affect their lending decision.
If you have already had a six-month payment holiday or didn’t ask for one before 1 April 2021
If you are finding it difficult to afford your mortgage payments, contact your lender as soon as possible to discuss your situation. Ask your lender what forbearance options are available and how they will affect your credit file. Your lender should provide support that is tailored to your circumstances. For example, this may include an agreement:
- to make reduced payments or no payments for a set period of time; or
- to change the term of your mortgage.
If you previously had a payment holiday which has ended and you can afford to make your mortgage payments again, do so. You will also need to contact your lender to discuss how you are going to catch up with the missed payments.
The FCA has also said that while lenders can continue with repossession action, a firm should not enforce repossession of a property before 1 April 2021. This does not mean that your lender will take court action.
If you cannot afford to pay your mortgage or already have arrears, contact your lender as soon as possible to discuss your situation. If you are at risk of repossession and your lender is unhelpful, contact Shelter Scotland on 0808 800 4444. Information is also available on their website.