Scottish private sector landlords and tenants who face 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 March 31, the Scottish Government has announced.
Bodies such as the National Residential Landlords Association have called for similar loan schemes in England.
These extensions come after Scottish Government housing minister Kevin Stewart extended temporary regulations banning the enforcement of eviction orders in the private and social rented sectors. He says: “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.
“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 pandemic and have no other means of housing support.
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 per cent 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 pandemic.