10:11 AM, 1st September 2020, About 11 months ago 2
SAL was dismayed to hear the announcement by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that her government intends that the emergency restrictions on evictions, due to the impact of coronavirus, will be extended until March 2021, subject to parliamentary approval. On the 21 August SAL launched its campaign to encourage members to write to their MSPs. Thank you to everyone who has taken action.
Although we were surprised to hear this before the Scottish Government has taken evidence on the need for such an extension, it was not unexpected as Scottish Ministers, intimated the likelihood back in March at the beginning of the pandemic.
While many campaigning groups have welcomed the premature announcement by the First Minister, the Scottish Parliament has yet to debate and agree this position. We believe that extending the emergency measures on evictions will only push a critical problem into the future when it needs to be tackled head-on now.
If the Scottish Government is serious about extending the “ban on evictions” for another six months, then the government must pay tenants’ rents as landlords cannot afford to go for over a year without any income. The answer is simple – ensure tenants have the money to pay their rent.
Landlords with no rental income to pay their mortgages and rental expenses, are at risk of having their rental properties repossessed. What will be the security for tenants at that point? Will the social rented sector be ready to re-home these people?
In order to address the root of the problem, the government must provide support for tenants affected by the pandemic to pay their rent. Other administrations such as the Welsh Assembly Government are looking at imaginative ways to put money in to tenants’ pockets for rent and I believe the Scottish Government should follow suit as quickly as possible to prevent the collapse of a vital part of the housing sector.
The Scottish Parliament has powers to help those tenants in need, and it should be taking action now.
If the Scottish Government wants free housing to be provided to tenants, the cost must be covered. Government cannot expect private individuals to provide housing to tenants free of charge, especially when they are likewise losing their income and have their own bills to pay and families to support.
This pandemic is affecting everyone and we mustn’t pitch the interests of landlords against tenants, but rather find a solution to support tenants and sustain tenancies through and beyond the crisis.
What we need to focus on right now is how we can sustain tenancies during the crisis. Landlords should continue to be flexible and understanding and tenants should ensure that their landlord is kept informed about changes to allow for reasonable solutions to be found.
No doubt this government move will further destabilise the sector as landlords consider exiting the market at a time of increased demand on the private rented sector to house people unable to find a home elsewhere.
We need all landlords to act now by writing to your Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) expressing your concerns and sharing your personal experience of how you have been affected by tenants not paying their rent.
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