Scottish Labour has warned of the “first signs of a looming crisis” after figures revealed that the number of people evicted has risen six-fold after a ban ended.
As part of coronavirus restrictions, the Scottish Government enacted a ban on actioning eviction notices in areas in levels three and four of the lockdown.
But on June 5, Glasgow became the last part of Scotland to move to level two, effectively ending the ban in every part of the country.
According to figures released this week by the Scottish Housing Regulator, the number of people evicted from their homes rose from six in the final quarter of 2020-21 to 38 in the first quarter of 2021-22.
Scottish Labour housing spokesman, Mark Griffin, said: “These are the first signs of the looming crisis we all feared would follow the end of the evictions ban.
“The total lack of long-term planning from the Government has created a ticking time-bomb of evictions, which saw rates spiral instantly in the weeks after the ban was lifted.
“The SNP’s decision to abandon the evictions ban with minimal preparation, making tenants waiting months for the grant fund to open, is unimaginably reckless – and it is those who are already struggling that will pay the price.
“A spike in homelessness as a result of the pandemic would be a national scandal. We urgently need to support tenants in rent arrears now in order to avoid a tidal wave of evictions.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We are doing all we can to support tenants who are struggling as a result of the pandemic, with total support for tenants during the pandemic at almost £39m, including a £10m grant fund to help tenants who have fallen into arrears.
“Only a very small proportion of notices of proceedings result in evictions, and a social landlord will make every effort to engage with a tenant on arrears and offer practical support.
“Private landlords can only seek eviction on specific grounds, which would include arrears or where the landlord wishes to move back into or sell the let property.”
She continued: “We have been clear from the outset of the pandemic that eviction action must be an absolute last step which is why we welcomed the recent statement from local authorities, housing associations and private landlords which underlined the sector’s commitment to only taking eviction action as a last resort.
“We would encourage all tenants who are financially struggling to seek advice on their individual circumstances.”