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Emergency eviction protections may be extended to March 2021

Image credit: PA

Emergency eviction protections may be extended to March 2021

Nicola Sturgeon has announced the Scottish Government will support extending emergency protections for tenants facing eviction until March 2021.

Emergency coronavirus legislation putting a stop on evictions for six months, which was passed through the Scottish Parliament earlier in the pandemic, is due to expire 30 September.

During First Minister’s Questions (FMQs) on Wednesday, the FM was asked by Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie whether she would look at measures “to prevent a tidal wave of evictions this winter? Or will we again be left looking to fix a crisis after the harm is done?”

Responding, Sturgeon said: “The ban on evictions, that the original coronavirus legislation put in place, due to expire on the 30th of September, the government wants to extend it to March 2021.

“I can’t say right now that that is definitely happening because it’s up to this parliament to vote on it. But if my party and his party [the Greens] votes together then there should be no block on that,” she said

Following FMQs, Harvie criticised Sturgeon for stopping short of committing to additional protections needed to prevent evictions.

“The Scottish Greens have been pushing for greater protection for tenants for months, as every forecast shows this pandemic will cause long-term economic damage to our most vulnerable communities,” he said.

“Extending the temporary pause on evictions beyond next month will help a little, but this won’t provide long-term security for those in danger of losing their home, nor avoid winter evictions as the six-month notice evictions are implemented.

“I urge the First Minister to look again at Andy Wightman’s proposed rent freeze and a ban on any evictions arising as a consequence of arrears accrued due to COVID-19. To keep protecting landlords while failing tenants would be unacceptable.”

The news was welcomed by several organisations, including Shelter Scotland, who said the government had shown “real leadership by protecting more tenants from losing their homes”.

“This will give breathing space to thousands of people who’ve been hit hard by this pandemic so they have a fair chance to deal with the work and money problems that have been forced on them,” Shelter Scotland director Alison Watson said.

“Today’s decision is a big win for tenants and for Shelter Scotland’s campaign. We want to thank our supporters who emailed their MSPs to demand action, and key organisations across Scotland who pushed for this outcome.

“This shows that when we work together, we can win real change. We’ll keep fighting to stop homelessness and deliver safe, affordable homes for everyone who needs them.”

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) said it was pleased with the announcement and hoped MSPs would support the extension when it comes before the Scottish Parliament.

“As emergency financial support schemes wind down, there is growing risk of a housing crisis. Whilst significant action will be needed to deal with the issue of mounting rent arrears, this would be the first step to ensuring legal protection over winter is extended to prevent evictions,” CAS social justice policy manager Nina Ballantyne said.

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