New loan fund aimed at tenants struggling to pay rent
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A Highland MSP has welcomed a new £10 million fund to help people struggling to pay rent in the Highlands.
The Tenant Hardship Loan Fund will open later this autumn and offer interest-free loans to those unable to access other forms of support for their housing costs.
The Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) fund, which helps tenants in receipt of benefits ,will also increase by £3 million, bringing the total to £19 million.
The Scottish Government has also extended legislation to protect private and social tenants from eviction until March 2021 – pending approval from Holyrood.
Highlands & Islands MSP Maree Todd said:“Coronavirus is the biggest health crisis of our time, but as we look to rebuild our economy and regain a sense of normality, we can’t simply go back to how things were.
"The intention is that this fund will open in November for those unable to access other forms of support to help meet their housing costs. We have been clear that no landlord should evict a tenant because they have suffered financial hardship due to the pandemic." – Maree Todd
“We know that the pandemic has hit the lowest earners hardest - that’s why the SNP Government has announced a range of measures designed at tackling inequality and supporting those who need it most.
"This new £10 million fund, coupled with existing housing benefits, will mean that no one in Highlands and islands should be left in a position where they can’t access support to pay their rent.
“It’s only right that while we continue working together to suppress the virus, the SNP Government does all it can to support tenants during these tough times.”
Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: "Tackling inequality and supporting people is a central theme of this year’s Programme for Government and this package of support for tenants is part of that.
“We already know that the pandemic has hit the lowest earners hardest and the Scottish Government has already put in place a range of actions in place to support tenants. This new £10 million fund, along with a further increase in our Discretionary Housing Payment funds, will mean that no one should be left in a position where they cannot access support to pay their rent. The intention is that this fund will open in November for those unable to access other forms of support to help meet their housing costs.
“We have been clear that no landlord should evict a tenant because they have suffered financial hardship due to the pandemic. I fully expect landlords to be flexible with anyone facing such challenges, signposting them to the sources of financial support available, and tenants in difficulty should engage with their landlord and seek advice on the options open to them.
“I can confirm that emergency legislation will be extended to ensure no evictions can take place until March 2021. However, since the initial legislation was introduced we have listened carefully to tenants and housing authorities concerned that a three-month notice period is too long where tenants have behaved in an anti-social or criminal way. We are therefore reverting back to a one-month period for repossession for such cases to ensure we can protect other tenants, neighbours and landlords who should not have to tolerate such behaviour.”
The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act ensures evictions cannot take place before end of September and this will now be extended for a further six months to March 2021.
The Tenant Hardship Loan Fund will open later in the autumn and further details of how to apply will be announced in due course.