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03 Apr 23

The Scottish Government – which is already implementing a rent cap and eviction ban for the private sector – is now telling landlords to consider reducing rent if their tenants ask.

In new guidance issued over the weekend, the Scottish Government – ruled by a loose alliance between the Scottish National Party and the Green Party – tries to explain why it believes tenants in the private sector need both the rent cap and the eviction ban.

“Rented households are more likely to have lower household incomes, higher levels of poverty and to be financially vulnerable. Evidence shows that 40 per cent of private rented households in Scotland are estimated to be financially vulnerable, with savings which would cover less than one month of income at the poverty line, compared to 24 per cent of households buying with a mortgage and nine per cent of households owning outright” says the guidance. 

It advises that private tenants should continue to pay their rent during this time but gives landlords a list of helplines and support services to which is can direct a tenant “who is struggling to pay their rent, or worried about paying their rent in the future.”

Then the guidance comes to the part about reducing rent.

It says: “In the face of the cost of living crisis, tenants may ask their landlords for a temporary change in the level of rent or the arrangements for payment. Landlords should be willing to consider such requests from the tenant to help sustain a tenancy by providing breathing space for tenants facing unexpected changes in their financial circumstances”

And it then advises that where landlords are willing t”o support a tenant” through a reduction in rent it is essential that both parties understand the details of the change – whether it is a partial reduction in rent, a rent holiday or some other adjustment to payment arrangement – and the timescale during which the change will be in place. 

“It is strongly recommended that such agreements are confirmed in writing” the guidance notes.

A complete moratorium on evictions has been extended to September 2023 meaning that landlords have very few options to obtain vacant possession of their properties including such circumstances as when tenants have stopped paying the rent or when the relationship between the tenant and the landlord has broken down. 

In addition, private sector rents cannot be raised until July at the earliest with notice having to be given this month – with any rent increases capped at three per cent. A rent freeze has already been in place since September 2022 until the end of last month, March.

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