New protection for tenants
The Scottish Government has now passed an emergency law to protect renters in Scotland during coronavirus.
The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 protects tenants from eviction action for up to 6 months, where a landlord issues a notice on or after 7 April 2020.
This law temporarily extends the amount of notice landlords must give when ending a tenancy. In most cases landlords will now need to give tenants 6 months' notice, unless they're ending a tenancy for certain reasons. This includes antisocial and criminal behaviour or where the landlord or their family need to move into the property.
The new law also temporarily makes all grounds for eviction in the private rented sector discretionary. This change ensures that the Tribunal will be able to use discretion and take into account all factors relating to the impact of coronavirus on both the landlord and tenant, before deciding whether to issue an eviction order or not.
Ministers are allowed extend the temporary period these changes are in place, if that is needed.
If you're experiencing financial difficulties as a result of coronavirus
If you're able to pay rent as normal you must continue to do so. If you're unable to pay the full amount, you should pay as much of your rent as you can.
It's likely that many tenants who are experiencing financial difficulties as a result of coronavirus will be eligible for some financial support at this time. You should check what help you can get. You may be able to claim Universal Credit, Discretionary Housing Payment or get help from a local council through the Scottish Welfare Fund. Citizen's Advice Scotland has information and advice on financial support available if you are experiencing financial difficulties because of coronavirus.
The Scottish Government has also called on all landlords not to evict a tenant because they have suffered financial hardship due to coronavirus. We expect landlords to be flexible with tenants facing financial hardship and signpost them to the sources of financial support available.
If you think that you may still have problems paying your rent even with these sources of support, you should speak to your landlord (or letting agent) about this as soon as possible.
If your landlord wants to evict you, it's important to know your rights
If you have a private residential tenancy, it's important to remember that your landlord cannot simply end your tenancy because they want it to end. They must issue you with a 'Notice to Leave' on one or more of the 18 grounds for repossession.
If you receive a notice to leave, remember that you do not need to move out until an eviction order is granted by the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber). You can wait for your landlord to apply to the Tribunal for an eviction order, where the landlord will be asked by the Tribunal to prove that the ground(s) specified for eviction do apply.
Remember that if a landlord tries to physically or forcefully remove you from your property without an eviction order, the landlord is committing a crime. If your landlord physically removes you from the property, or threatens to do so, or if they change the locks, you should report the matter to the police (by calling 101).
You may wish to get help and advice if your landlord is trying to evict you.
The First-tier Tribunal
During coronavirus, the First-tier Tribunal has issued an announcement that hearings and case management discussions have been postponed for the time being. You should check the First-tier Tribunal website for updates on the current situation.
If you need to move for another reason
We are discouraging any unnecessary movement of people where possible. We also advise that, where possible, moves should be delayed. All parties involved in the move should seek to agree to delay the move.
However, we understand that it may not be possible to delay some moves during this period, particularly where someone may be at risk of becoming homeless or may be put at risk by not being able to access other accommodation, or where a move is necessary so that key workers can be where they are needed.
Where a move cannot be avoided, care should be taken to follow the latest social distancing and hygiene guidance. Face-to-face contact should be limited where possible. In cases where face-to-face contact is necessary, distancing measures should be carried out by all parties – keep a distance of two meters between anybody who is not from the same household.
Where an individual or family is self-isolating, or where a vulnerable person is shielding, moves should not take place unless needed for urgent health and safety reasons.
Guidance on social distancing in different languages
The UK Government has released some translations of their guidance on coronavirus and social distancing in several different languages. You may find these helpful: