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Scottish housing advice: coronavirus (COVID-19)

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The page is updated regularly. Last update 25 September 2020

See the Scottish Government information on the coronavirus outbreak

See NHS Inform Scotland for health advice on coronavirus

See Citizen Advice Scotland for non-housing related advice

The Scottish Government has published advice for landlords and letting agents


Eviction

The Scottish Government brought in new rules which extend the notice period needed before a landlord can apply for an eviction order.

This is not a ban on evictions. It just increases the length of time between your landlord formally letting you know they are going to take action, and the case being heard at the court or tribunal.

If you get any notices from your landlord you should seek advice as soon as you can. Even if your landlord has sent you notice, there might still be ways to prevent eviction. Speak to an adviser if you need help.

These new rules apply to cases where the notice was served on or after 7 April 2020 will be in place until at least 31 March 2021.

The change in the length of notice depends on the type of tenancy and what ground is used. For more details see the main section for your tenancy. 

If you are not sure what type of tenancy you have use our tenancy checker.

Any cases that had already been raised before 7 April 2020 are assessed by the original rules.

Illegal eviction

Your landlord has to follow the correct process to evict you from your home. Illegal eviction is a criminal offence - coronavirus doesn't change this.

Illegal eviction is when you are forced to leave your home by someone who does not have the legal right to do this.

You might be illegally evicted if:

  • your landlord changes the locks
  • your landlord stops you from getting into your home
  • your landlord makes life so uncomfortable for you that you are forced to leave your home, for example by cutting off water, gas or electricity supplies or by continually turning up at your home late at night
  • you are physically removed from the property by a person who is not a sheriff officer.

What if I live with my landlord? 

If you live with your landlord, then they won't need to get a court order before they can evict you. However, your landlord should give you proper and reasonable notice that they want you to leave.


Moving and leaving home

You are currently allowed to move home and carry out tasks connected to the buying, selling and renting out of a home, for example:

  • visiting estate or letting agents
  • viewing a property that you're interested in buying or renting
  • moving into a home
  • preparing a home to move into or
  • preparing a property so that it can be sold or rented.

All persons must comply with any regulations for example, you may need to delay a move if there are people who are self-isolating.

Check the most recent the Scottish Government guidance on moving home.

If you are buying or selling a home, always speak to your solicitor first.

Private residential tenancies

If you want to end the tenancy, you will have to give the landlord 28 days notice in writing. The notice has to state the day on which the tenancy is to end; usually, the day after the notice period has expired.

Find out more about private residential tenancies.

Short assured and assured tenancies

If you want to leave before the end of your tenancy, you will need to check your tenancy; It should state on your tenancy agreement whether you can do this and how much notice you have to give.

Even if this is not mentioned on the tenancy agreement, you may be able to arrange with your landlord.

Find out more about short assured tenancies and assured tenancies.

Student accommodation

If you live in purpose-built student accommodation, and you want to end your tenancy because of the coronavirus outbreak, the amount of notice you need to give your landlord depends on when you moved in:

  • before 27 May 2020 - you need to give 7 days notice that you are going to leave
  • on or after 27 May 2020 - you need to give 28 days notice that you are going to leave.

The notice has to be in writing, and the tenancy will end the day after the notice period ends.

Find out more about student accommodation.

Common law tenancies

If you are a common law tenant, you should check if there is a break clause in your tenancy agreement that allows you to leave the property early. If there isn't a break clause, you will then need to negotiate with your landlord to see if they can leave your tenancy early.

Find out more about common law tenancies.


Paying rent

Talk to your landlord if you're struggling to pay rent.

You might be able to agree to a rent reduction, or they might be willing to accept rent late. Get any agreement in writing.

Use our template letter tool to help negotiate a rent reduction.

For more help with rent arrears visit our dealing with rent arrears page.

Can I stop paying rent? 

There is no rent holiday or break for renters. You can only pause or reduce your rent payments if your landlord agrees.

Buy to let landlords may get mortgage payment holidays if their tenants have financial problems due to coronavirus, but this won’t always be possible.


Claiming benefits

Already claiming benefits

If you already receive benefits and your income changes:

This will make sure you get what you’re entitled to as quickly as possible.

You should also let your landlord know if you’re struggling to pay rent and discuss possible options with them. See the page Dealing with rent arrears for more information.

How to claim universal credit or other benefits

You can get help with your rent if you are on a low wage and your employer reduces your hours, if you lose your job or if you are self isolating.

Find out what you can claim at entitledto.

You can apply for universal credit. Make your claim as soon as you can.

You can get an advance if you need rent money before your first universal credit payment.

Find out: 

Citizens Advice can help you with your application, call: 0800 023 2581 for help.

If you can’t use a computer, you can apply online using a smartphone. A friend or family member may be able to help. 

You can also set up a claim over the phone if you can’t use a computer. Call the universal credit helpline on 0800 328 5644


Domestic abuse

If you are unsafe in your home because of domestic abuse there is still help available during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Call Scotland's Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline on 0800 027 1234, you can also webchat or email.

Find more advice and contact numbers for other services if you are homeless or need to move out because of domestic abuse.


Repairs and landlord access

Can my letting agent/landlord still go ahead with visits and inspections? 

You should tell your agent or landlord if you don't want any visits at this time. Your landlord should agree to postpone non essential visits such as: 

  • tenancy inspections 
  • viewings towards the end of your tenancy 

You should inform your agent or landlord if you can't allow access because you're self isolating. You don't have to give them any further details of your health. 

What if I need repairs or a gas safety check is due? 

Landlords have the same responsibilities for repairs during the coronavirus outbreak. You should still report repairs as soon as you can by phone, email or online. 

They might not be able to get the problem fixed during the usual timescales but your landlord shouldn't delay repairs unreasonably. 

Annual gas safety checks remain an important legal requirement. Your landlord should rearrange a gas safety check if you're self isolating.


Mortgage arrears

Mortgage lenders have been asked not carry out any repossessions until at least 31 October 2020.

If you are in mortgage arrears or are worried about losing your home see the pages Mortgage arrears for advice on what you can do.

You can also find information for mortgage borrowers on the FCA website.


Gas and electricity bills

Speak to your energy supplier if you're struggling financially or in arrears with gas or electricity bills. 

You could get support including: 

  • reduced bills or debt repayments 
  • a temporary break in your bills or debt arrangements 

If you have a pre payment meter they may be able to: 

  • arrange for someone else to top up your meter  
  • extend your emergency credit level
  • add credit to your account automatically 
  • send you a pre loaded top up card 

If someone else is going to top up your meter you will need to leave your meter box unlocked. 

The page Household bills has information on budgeting and ways to cut the cost of your bills.


Land and Buildings Transaction Tax

From 15 July 2020 the zero rate band for Land and Buildings Transaction Tax increased, from £145,000 to £250,000. This means when you buy a property you won't pay tax on the first £250,000. This will be in place until 31 March 2021.

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