Special rules for public sector (councils and housing associations) and private tenants during the Covid-19 pandemic

Special rules for public sector (councils and housing associations) and private housing tenants during the Covid-19 pandemic

The Scottish Government has brought in special rules to help tenants during the pandemic. It is also providing financial support for tenants and also landlords. These include the following:

  • The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 protects tenants, both in the public and private rented sectors, from any eviction action for up to 6 months. 
  • In most cases landlords will now need to give tenants 6 months’ notice, unless they are ending the tenancy for particular reasons, including antisocial and criminal behaviour by the tenant, or where the landlord or their family need to move into the property where the notice period is 3 months. 
  • Legislation also temporarily makes all grounds for eviction in the private rented sector “discretionary”. That means that the Housing and Property Tribunal will be able take into account all factors relating to the impact of COVID-19 has had on both the landlord and tenant into account before deciding whether to issue an eviction order or not.
  • The new law applies in cases where a landlord serves notice on their tenant on or after 7 April 2020. It does not apply where notice served before 7 April 2020. There is also a ban on the enforcement of an eviction order by Sheriff Officers (until 31 March 2021) in areas subject to level 3 or 4 protection areas, with review every three weeks.
  • Local councils may be able to provide temporary accommodation in a hotel or bed and breakfast for a person who needs to self-isolate or keep to physical distancing rules.
  • Tenants may be able to get help with the payment of rent from Universal Credit, Discretionary Housing Payment, Scottish Welfare Fund. 
  • A Tenant Hardship Loan Fund can help tenants with loan for rent arrears, or up to 3 months future rent. Landlords may also be able to get loans to cover arrears of rent from their tenants. 

Please note that these are temporary rules because of the crisis, and may be changed or ended at short notice. For further details of these temporary changes to legislation, and the assistance and support that is available, these are helpful links on the Scottish Government website: 

https://www.mygov.scot/private-rental-rights/

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-landlord-and-letting-agent-faqs/

https://www.mygov.scot/social-rental-rights/

This page was written on 7 February 2021.