In order to protect private tenants during the coronavirus outbreak, the Scottish Government is introducing temporary legislation to amend the rent arrears ground for eviction under the Private Residential Tenancy from three consecutive months to six consecutive months.

In addition, the Scottish Government has asked all local authorities in Scotland to send landlords a letter from the Housing Minister asking that they, given the unprecedented circumstances, be flexible with tenants and refrain from evicting a tenant who has suffered financial hardship due to coronavirus.  Landlords should encourage tenants to speak to the local authority if they are having trouble paying their rent to see if any financial support is available through various schemes including statutory sick pay, universal credit, housing benefit, discretionary housing payment and the Scottish Welfare Fund.

The message from the Scottish Government is that in these unparalleled times they hope private landlords will help tenants as part of an overall society response rather than risk tenants being made homeless.

The banks have already agreed a three month mortgage holiday which will hopefully help many landlords and there is a push in some quarters to extend this as the coronavirus challenge continues.  There is a tricky balance to strike between protecting tenants and ensuring private landlords are able to continue to provide housing.

In these uncertain times, the government and the private rented sector will have to react quickly to challenges as and when they arise to ensure both private tenants and landlords can get through the current issues and, in time, back to normality.