Scottish Government must consider 'full consequences' of extending evictions ban | News

Scottish Government must consider 'full consequences' of extending evictions ban

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) has called for the Scottish Government to revert the notice period for evictions in the social housing sector on the grounds of anti-social behaviour back to one month from three.

The SFHA said if the government does not make this change, then "other household members, tenants, and communities will suffer".

SFHA made the call after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed last week that the government will extend the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 legislation, subject to parliamentary approval.

While the Federation, which represents housing associations in Scotland, supports protecting tenants who are struggling to pay their rent as a result of Covid-19, they say it is "vital housing associations can act quickly when the actions of some tenants are negatively affecting others."

SFHA is also making two further asks of the government, which it said are critical if the act’s provisions are extended:  

  • Increased investment in Discretionary Housing Payments and the Scottish Welfare Fund and consideration of other support required for tenants who are struggling to pay their rent due to Covid-19   
  • A major national campaign, with clear messaging, that highlights the importance of rent payment by tenants who are able to do so; details sources of support that are available to help tenants to pay their rent; and explains how non-payment of rent could affect investment in homes and services in the future. 

Sally Thomas, SFHA Chief Executive, said: “It is absolutely the right thing to do that we protect tenants who are struggling to pay their rent as a result of the financial effects of Covid-19, but the Scottish Government must revert the notice period for evictions related to anti-social behaviour back to one month.

"We are hearing increasing evidence from our members of serious cases of anti-social behaviour that is making other tenants’ lives a misery, and our members must have the power to act quickly when this is the case.   

“We will continue to do everything we can to work with the Scottish Government to minimise the impact of the pandemic on tenants – but also on our members.

"Non-payment of rent can have serious consequences for housing associations and co-operatives. Rent is a vital source of income as it allows them to provide support and services for tenants and to carry out essential repairs and maintenance work. These frontline services are needed to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of tenants.    

“Our members already work hard to support their tenants to pay their rent through tenancy sustainment and welfare rights services, but the government must take the lead, through a national campaign, and highlight the importance of paying rent and the sources of support that are available to help people to do this.

"Our members are concerned about a minority of tenants – some of whom were in arrears before the pandemic – viewing this period as a ‘rent holiday’ and accruing further, non-Covid related arrears.

"The government must make clear that this is not a rent holiday, and non-payment could have consequences for future investment in homes and services.”

The SFHA used several examples of Anti Social Behaviour and rent arrears to evidence why this needs to change, with one nuisance neighbour not being able to be evicted and therefore having to move others out and leaving the homes around the perpetrator empty.