Scottish ministers are set to extend the country’s protection for renters until March 2021 as the eviction ban in England moves closer to being lifted.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed that Scottish Government wants to extend the moratorium beyond next month’s cut-off date, subject to a Holyrood vote, to protect tenants hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking at First Minister’s Questions after Green MSP Patrick Harvie warned that there had been 350 eviction applications during the pandemic and a “tidal wave of evictions” was on the way, Sturgeon said: “The ban on evictions, that the original coronavirus legislation put in place, due to expire on the 30th of September, the government wants to extend it to March 2021.
This is a huge win for Living Rent and tenants and would not have been possible without the organisation of tenants across Scotland to protect our interests.
— Living Rent (@Living_Rent) August 12, 2020
“I can’t say right now that that is definitely happening because it’s up to this parliament to vote on it. But if my party and his party [the Greens] votes together then there should be no block on that.”
The move has been hailed by campaigners after the Everyone Home Collective – bringing together 24 homelessness and housing charities and organisations, including Crisis, The Rock Trust and Street Soccer Scotland – published an open letter to Scottish ministers earlier this week. Warning that extended the eviction ban was a key recommendation of the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group, the Collective told MPs that lifting protections prematurely would be “devastating for individuals and families and counter to good public health outcomes in the community”.
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With the evictions ban on the verge of being extended, Shelter Scotland hailed the news as “a big win for our supporters and us”.
Meanwhile, tenants union Living Rent tweeted their joy but called for support for renters to protect them from being trapped in arrears.
And Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) welcomed the proposed extension of the emergency powers after highlighting rising concern among renters.
BREAKING: @scotgov has announced its commitment to extending the protections against eviction until March 2021.
This helps thousands hit hard by the pandemic to keep a roof over their heads.
This is a big win for our supporters and us.
— Shelter Scotland (@shelterscotland) August 12, 2020
Their data revealed a 22 per cent rise in the proportion of advice given out on housing between February and July with a 35 per cent rise in relation to the private rented sector alone. They also recorded a 300 per cent increase in the proportion of advice dished out on private rent arrears among all types of housing arrears advice.
CAS social justice policy manager Nina Ballantyne said: “We made clear to the Scottish Government that withdrawing it before the full economic impact of COVID-19 is understood would risk a rise in homelessness and destitution, so we are pleased to see today’s announcement and hope MSPs will support this extension when it is brought to Parliament.”
With Welsh ministers already announcing a six-month notice period of evictions, only renters in England have seen no further protections put in place and are now facing an August 23 cliff face when the evictions ban is due to end.
The Big Issue is standing against the ban. That’s why we have launched the Ride Out Recession Alliance to prevent homelessness and protect jobs. Time is running out for renters in England and the evictions ban must be extended to prevent people being thrown out of their properties and into homelessness.
To work to do something about this, we want to gather the stories of how you are being impacted by the crisis. If we can understand the extent, we can do something about it. Nobody should be living in fear and fighting a battle to keep a roof over their head. Tweet us, send us a message on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.