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Almost one in five people in Scotland are worried about losing their home if they can't pay their rent or mortgage.*
If you're struggling to pay your rent during coronavirus, financial help and advice are available.
Speak to your landlord
If you can't pay your rent you should explain the situation to your landlord straight away. They might give you more time to pay or agree to reduce your rent. Get any agreement in writing.
If you can't agree with your landlord about your rent payments, it's a good idea to keep paying as much as you can afford. Keep a record of what you discussed with your landlord and how much you paid.
If you stop paying your rent without agreeing this with your landlord, they could use it as a reason to evict you. But there are some extra protections against eviction for some tenants during coronavirus.
Check if you can claim Universal Credit or Housing Benefit
You might be able to claim benefits to help with housing costs if your income has gone down. This might be because you:
- are earning less than usual - including if you're self-employed or on a zero hours contract
- have lost your job or were made redundant
- have stopped being self-employed.
Most people have to claim Universal Credit. Whether you’ll be able to get Universal Credit depends on your situation. You can check what benefits you can get.
Getting a Discretionary Housing Payment
If you get Housing Benefit or Universal Credit but it doesn't cover all your rent, you might be able to get extra money from the local council. This is called a Discretionary Housing Payment. You don't need to pay this money back.
Tenant Hardship Loans
If you're eligible, you could get a Tenant Hardship Loan. The loan can be used to cover up to nine months' rent. This can be made up of:
- rent arrears since 1 January 2020, or
- up to three months of future rent payments, or
- a combination of both - but only up to a maximum of nine months' rent.
The loan is interest free but you must pay the money back. You can pay it back over five years. You won't need to pay anything back in the first six months.
It's important not to take on more debt than you can afford. If you don't think you will be able to repay the loan, it might not be right for you.
Before you apply for a loan, you should check if you're eligible for financial help that you don't need to pay back - for example, Universal Credit or a Discretionary Housing Payment. You can get advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
You will need to pass an affordability check and a credit check before being offered a loan. You might want to get financial advice before applying.
Get help with your other bills
There are things you can do if you're struggling to pay your bills because of coronavirus, for example your council tax and energy bills.
Protection from eviction because of coronavirus
The Scottish Government has made a temporary change to the law on eviction because of coronavirus. If you're behind with your rent, your landlord can only evict you if they give you six months' notice.
If you're a private-sector tenant, your landlord must also go to the First-tier Tribunal to get an eviction order. The tribunal will only grant an eviction order if it's reasonable to evict you in the circumstances.
There is a ban on evictions in level 3 and 4 areas until 31 March 2021. You can’t be evicted during this time unless your eviction is for antisocial or criminal behaviour, including domestic abuse.
You should still get advice as soon as you can. You'll need time to prepare to challenge your eviction or find a new place to live.
If you’re an EEA or Swiss citizen
Your immigration status affects your eligibility for benefits or a Tenant Hardship Loan.
If you're from the EEA or Switzerland and you want to stay in the UK after 30 June 2021, you need to apply for settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. It's worth applying as soon as possible.
You had to be in the UK by 31 December 2020 to apply for settled or pre-settled status.
You can check the eligibility rules for Universal Credit if you're not from the UK. You need to have the right to reside in the UK to be eligible for a Tenant Hardship Loan.