£175k funding pot to be used to prevent 'Covid-19-related homelessness'

Scottish Borders Council has been allocated £175,000 in government funding to prevent tenants being evicted from their homes because of rent arrears built up as a result of the pandemic.

By Paul Kelly
Tuesday, 16th November 2021, 2:57 pm

A new fund available to those who have rent arrears related to Covid-19 financial pressures is to be administered by the council.

It is specifically for rent arrears that have arisen between March 23, 2020, and August 9, 2021.

The payments will go to landlords rather than individuals and the council is working with both registered social landlords and landlords in the private sector.

At a meeting of the council’s executive committee today, Tuesday, November 16, Councillor Robin Tatler said: “The point is well made that it goes directly to the landlords and not the individuals and this is all about preventing eviction and homelessness as a result of Covid-19, which is really important.

"We are working very closely with registered social landlords in relation to social inclusion and recently held a really positive workshop with all the social inclusion officers and that’s resulted in an ongoing process of sharing best practice.

"If members of the pubic are having issues as a result of Covid-19 in terms of rent arrears please make sure you get in touch, there are people there to help you.”

The council is now assessing the scale of the demand for the fund.

A report to the committee says: “Local authority officers will use the Tenant Grant Fund as one of the tools for saving tenancies, creating sustainable housing solutions for individuals and preventing homelessness.

"Arrears after August 9 can only be recovered in exceptional circumstance, where the local authority is satisfied that arrears relate to continued impact of pandemic restrictions.

"Focus is on supporting those at most risk of homelessness, where tenancies can be saved, and where funding can support an agreement between the landlord and the tenant

"Landlords must demonstrate that they are complying with the pre-action requirements for rent arrears and agree not to progress a repossession on the basis of rent arrears where a grant is paid and the tenant meets all future rent and repayment obligations.”