Coronavirus and Housing
To help you understand these changes we've put together a list of questions and answers that our helpline has been asked.
What should I do if I can’t pay my rent?
Even if you can’t pay all of your rent, pay as much of it as you can. If you are unable to work due to Coronavirus, check if you are entitled to any benefits, or other support from the government if you are self-employed.
The Scottish Government have launched a Tenant Hardship Loan Fund, designed to help people who have had their finances or employment impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, who do not have other means of housing support.
Loans will be available for social and private tenants, up to a maximum of nine months’ rent costs. The arrears must have arisen since 1 January 2020. It can include up to three months of future rent payments as part of the nine-month total.
If you have loans or credit cards, you may be able to get a 3-month payment holiday on them to free up some extra money, but this will increase the amount you have to pay later on.
If you are still unable to pay your full rent, speak to your landlord as soon as possible to see if you can agree on a way forward, such as reduced payments for a short period, that you’ll make up when your income returns to normal.
The Scottish Government has asked landlords to be as flexible as possible during the pandemic, and has brought in temporary changes to the law to give tenants extra protection. For more information, see the links below.
Council and housing association tenants:
What should I do if I can’t pay my mortgage?
Although it is too late to apply for the coronavirus mortgage repayment holiday scheme, you may still be able to agree tailored support with your mortgage lender.
The options available will depend on the lender and on your circumstances, but could include a repayment holiday if you haven't already had one, switching to a different mortgage deal, short-term reduced payments or extending your mortgage term to lower the monthly repayment in the longer term.
Some support options may mean you repay more overall, or could affect your credit rating, so it is important to speak to your lender as soon as possible, and make sure you fully understand any new agreement you enter into.
Can I claim benefits to help with my rent or mortgage?
If you are on a low income (temporarily or permanently) and pay rent, you may be entitled to Universal Credit with a housing element if you are below State Pension age, or Pension Credit and/or Housing Benefit if you are over State Pension age.
If you are receiving Housing Benefit but are still struggling to make your full rent payment, you can apply to your local council for a Discretionary Housing Payment.
If you receive a means-tested benefit already, in some circumstances you may be eligible for Support for Mortgage Interest; a loan to help with your mortgage costs.
For a benefit check to see what you may be entitled to, or more information about benefits, call the Age Scotland helpline on 0800 12 44 222.
Am I allowed to move home during the pandemic?
Home moves are permitted provided they can be carried out safely. Physical distancing and hygiene measures should be taken, such as staying 2m apart from people who are not part of your household, washing your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching your face and regularly disinfecting any surfaces that you, your family or the movers come into contact with.
What should I do if I am experiencing abuse where I live?
No-one should have to put up with physical or mental abuse, particularly in their own home. If you are experiencing domestic abuse or worried about someone you think may be being abused, you can call the Safer Scotland domestic abuse helpline on 0800 027 1234. For more information and advice, visit www.safer.scot or www.mygov.scot/domestic-abuse for information and advice.
If you are in immediate danger, call 999.
Can I have work done at my home? Do I have to let tradespeople in to carry out checks?
Tradespeople can carry out work in other people's homes providing they follow health and safety advice. This includes physical distancing, hand and surface hygiene, wearing face coverings and keeping the house well ventilated. They must also follow any additional health and safety guidance for the type of work they will be doing.
Tradespeople shouldn't enter a home where someone is self-isolating, except except to carry out essential or emergency work.
Outdoor work such as gardening and window cleaning can go ahead as usual, as long as physical distancing rules are followed.
It can be hard to know where to turn for advice. If there's something we can help with or you're not sure where to turn, contact our helpline today. Call us Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm on 0800 12 44 222 or email us.