Scottish law to stop social home evictions goes live
Social landlords will be required to take steps to help tenants who are in arrears before evicting them under new legislation which comes into effect today.
The Scottish Government has introduced new laws through the Housing (Scotland) Act to try and prevent evictions in the social rented sector by ensuring landlords take proactive steps to help tenants cope.
This could include offering benefits advice and putting a reasonable payment plan in place. Only once these things have been done can landlords refer a tenant to court for eviction action.
Andy Young, policy manager at the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, said the move simply reflected good practice already happening in the sector.
‘Our members have worked hard over recent years to drastically reduce the number of tenants being evicted for rent arrears, and now only less than 1 per cent of tenancies end this way.
‘We do however view it as a necessary, if sparingly used, sanction for persistent non-payment of rent.’
He added that the forthcoming changes to welfare payments, which will result in benefits going to the tenants instead of directly to landlords, would prove a bigger challenge.
‘The proposed changes are likely to cause confusion, additional financial hardship for tenants, and increased work for social landlords to help prevent evictions,’ he said.
Alex Neil, the Scottish Government’s infrastructure and capital investment secretary told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme this morning the legislation would still allow landlords to evict bad tenants.
‘People who absolutely refuse to pay, for example, should be evicted, but that number of people will be very, very few indeed,’ he said.
‘There were 14,500 court cases brought by councils and housing associations, and only 12 per cent of them ended in eviction.
‘What we are putting in place should prevent a lot of those cases ever having to get to court, because early intervention will be much more successful.’