Extending a ban on the eviction of tenants in rented accommodation is being considered by the Scottish Government, John Swinney has said.
The new Covid recovery secretary told MSPs that further protections from eviction are “under close consideration” now an outright ban no longer applies across most of Scotland.
Eviction orders and their enforcement is prohibited in parts of the country under Level 3 and 4 restrictions – currently just Glasgow and Moray.
Emergency legislation introduced at the start of the pandemic last year gives all tenants facing eviction up to six months to apply for financial support or find alternative accommodation, Swinney said.
He added: “Tribunals now have the discretion to take all factors into account when hearing eviction cases and could decide not to grant an eviction order.”
During an urgent question to the Government at Holyrood, Scottish Green MSP Ariane Burgess said: “We are still in a public health emergency, evicting vulnerable people who have been unable to work or earn during the pandemic is deeply unfair.
“As a minimum, we need to keep the eviction ban in place for as long as restrictions remain, will the minister agree to that?”
Swinney replied: “The protections in Level 3 or Level 4 areas continue to apply until at least September of this year, and we will obviously review these matters as we move closer towards that period and as ministers begin to consider – in dialogue with other political parties – the steps that we have to take in relation to Covid recovery.
“All the measures are due to end in September of this year.
“This will be an area that we continue to keep under close consideration as we look at our continued navigation out of, and recovery from, Covid-19.”
Asked by Scottish Labour’s Paul Sweeney to also extend the financial support available to renters who are in hardship because of the pandemic, Swinney said: “There is capacity within existing funding provisions available to support individuals.
“We will obviously keep that under constant review because we can’t be certain what is going to be the gravity of the challenge that we face.
“But what the Government is trying to do throughout the pandemic is have in place appropriate measures and appropriate support to assist individuals who face difficulty, to help them through those difficulties.
“That will be the commitment I readily give to Mr Sweeney today, to indicate the Government’s willingness to ensure that we have all provisions in place that are necessary, and we will continue to review the pattern that is emerging in any of these issues, to determine whether we have adequate support in place.”