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Tenants to be given extra protection

29th March 2020

Emergency Scottish legislation in response to coronavirus.

Private and social tenants will be given increased protection from eviction during the coronavirus pandemic.

Emergency legislation will increase the minimum notice period for private and social tenants to up to six months depending on the grounds used, helping to protect them from eviction.

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill, to be introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 31 March, will contain substantial further powers and measures to ensure essential public services can continue throughout the coronavirus outbreak.

Constitution Secretary Michael Russell said:"Our lives are being affected as we all play our part in trying to slow the spread of coronavirus and follow the essential public health advice to stay at home. For some households and businesses there will be financial difficulties ahead and that could include struggling to pay the rent.

“While all tenants experiencing issues with rent arrears should firstly explain their circumstances to their landlords, this new emergency legislation will provide an important backstop to prevent evictions and relieve the financial pressure people may be facing. We are also encouraging all landlords to be as flexible as possible during this unprecedented time and would urge them to also seek assistance if necessary by speaking to their lenders about mortgage breaks.

“This bill will provide substantial additional emergency powers to help the justice system, public services and the economy to cope. These measures, which will be strictly limited to the duration of the outbreak, are absolutely necessary to help us all through the coming months.

“The Scottish Government welcomes the very positive all-party discussions that have allowed this legislation to be drafted so quickly. These new measures will help us all as we work to tackle the virus."

More details of the bill will be provided when it is introduced to the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 31 March. Subject to the agreement of Parliament, the bill is expected to complete all of its stages on Wednesday 1 April.

The majority of measures in the bill will automatically expire six months after they come into force. The Scottish Parliament may extend these measures for two further periods of six months, giving the measures in the bill a maximum duration of 18 months.

The Scottish Government will provide a report to Parliament every two months about the use of these emergency powers.

Some of the key measures included in the bill are:

• measures to protect renters from eviction during the outbreak by adjusting the notice periods for the majority of repossession grounds across both private and social rented sectors

• a range of provisions designed to support businesses, consumers and public services during a period of acute pressure

• making adjustments to criminal procedure and to other aspects of the justice system, to ensure essential justice business can continue throughout the coronavirus outbreak

The new bill complements and supplements the Coronavirus Act 2020, passed by the UK Parliament on 25 March 2020, and which the Scottish Parliament gave its consent to on 24 March 2020.

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