Councils awarded £10m grants to help tenants in rent arrears
Councils have been given £10 million to provide grants to tenants who have fallen behind on their rent as a result of the pandemic and are at risk of eviction.
The grants will help tenants who are struggling financially as a direct result of the pandemic, allowing them to reduce or pay off their rent arrears. They will be available to tenants in both the private and social rented sectors.
Announced in June by Deputy First Minister John Swinney, the fund will see the Scottish Government will provide a one-off allocation of funds to each local authority in Scotland, based on a distribution agreement with CoSLA. The grant funding will be available until the end of March 2022.
There is no application process for a tenant or landlord to use for the grant funding. Instead local authorities will use their discretion to determine whether a grant payment is appropriate in individual circumstances.
This is part of a package of measures available to local authorities to prevent homelessness, alongside Discretionary Housing Payments and advice on maximising income. The grants also come on top of the Scottish Government’s £10m Tenant Hardship Loan Fund.
Housing secretary Shona Robison said: “We have been doing all we can to support tenants who are struggling as a result of the pandemic, and this latest funding takes our total housing support to almost £39m.
“These grants will support tenants and landlords who are willing to work together to address rent arrears and agree a repayment plan to ensure the tenant is able to avoid eviction.
“Councils have substantial experience in supporting people who have fallen behind on their rent, and are therefore well placed to work with both tenants and landlords in making use of this grant fund. Anyone who has been financially impacted by the pandemic and needs help to avoid eviction should contact their local authority housing department to discuss their circumstances.”
Councillor Kelly Parry, COSLA community wellbeing spokesperson, said: “We are working closely with the Scottish Government to support tenants through the grant fund.
“The pandemic has resulted in some facing a significant loss of income which has resulted in a proportion of these developing rent arrears. The fund is limited and therefore will be targeted at those most at risk of eviction, but will allow local authorities, tenants and landlords to work together to stay in their homes and prevent homelessness.
“Councils have a lead role in supporting a fair and inclusive recovery. Enabling people to sustain their tenancies helps maintain their important community connections.”
Nina Ballantyne, Citizens Advice Scotland social justice spokesperson, said: “The Citizens Advice network saw a real spike in demand for housing-related advice during the pandemic. Our analysis suggests almost 300,000 people in Scotland missed a housing payment last year because they ran out of money before pay day.
“We called for more support for tenants and are delighted to see this fund launch – we’d now encourage people to seek advice on what support is right for them and make use of all the options available.”