New scheme to help those impacted by pandemic.
A £10 million fund which offers interest-free loans to tenants who are struggling with rent arrears opens for applications today.
The Tenant Hardship Loan Fund is designed to help people who have had their finances or employment impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and do not have other means of housing support.
The new fund is part of a range of support and interventions in response to the pandemic. By giving tenants access to loans to cover a maximum of nine months worth of rent arrears and long repayment terms, it provides another option for people who have lost out financially due to the pandemic, but who can’t claim support from other means, such as welfare benefits.
Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said:
“There is no single solution to the difficulties being experienced as a result of the impacts of the pandemic in Scotland, and the Tenant Hardship Loan Fund is a part of a broader effort to support those who are affected.
“We want people to access the most appropriate form of financial support. For the majority of tenants facing financial difficulties and arrears the best means of support is regular non-repayable support, for example through Universal Credit and Discretionary Housing Payments.
“However, for those who may fall through the gap and are unable to claim such support, or who might be thinking of borrowing, this new Fund will be a helping hand to manage any rent issues that have arisen in the last few months as a result of the impact of COVID-19.”
Applications for the Tenant Hardship Loan Fund can be completed online.
Loans will be available for social and private tenants up to a maximum of nine months’ rent costs covering rent arrears and future rent, where those arrears have arisen since 1 January 2020 (the loan will not be available where a tenant had rent arrears before this date). The loan can include up to a maximum of three months of future rent payments as part of the nine-month total.
The loan provides an additional short-term offer that supports tenants to manage rent arrears and helps them to come back into paying their rent. Loan repayments will be deferred for six months as standard and repaid over a five-year period. This recognises the continuing uncertainty around the impacts of the pandemic.
The Tenant Hardship Loan Fund offers will be subject to an affordability assessment as part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to responsible lending. The affordability assessment looks at the applicant’s incomings and outgoings to check whether the applicant has enough surplus income, after other costs, to make the loan payments.
The application process for the loan highlights that there may be other more appropriate financial support options available to them and will signpost people to sources of further advice and support before making an application.
The Fund is part of the range of support and interventions in response to the pandemic, including the extended notice periods within the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act, introduction of private landlord pre-action requirements and the increases to Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs), along with interest free loans for landlords.