A ban on housing evictions will be put in place for six weeks over the winter, with Nicola Sturgeon saying people will only be removed from their homes if there are “exceptional circumstances”.
The First Minister announced new regulations will be put in place to “legally prevent any eviction notices being enforced” between December 11 and January 22.
People could still be forced to leave for reasons such as antisocial or criminal behaviour, or in cases of domestic abuse.
Ms Sturgeon said ministers have taken “early action to effectively ban evictions during the pandemic that were as a result of Covid”.
While this protection is in place until March 2021, she said it does not apply to actions raised before the coronavirus pandemic.
She said both Green MSP Andy Wightman and Labour’s Pauline McNeill had raised the issue with her.
Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, she told MSPs that housing minister Kevin Stewart has “decided to go further in providing safeguards”.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I can confirm we will introduce regulations to legally prevent any eviction notices being enforced during the six-week period December 11 to January 22, unless there are exceptional circumstances such as antisocial or criminal behaviour, or cases of domestic abuse.”
Mr Wightman welcomed the move, saying the Scottish Government has “finally recognised the urgent need for more protections for tenants during this pandemic”.
He said: “These new regulations will ensure that no sheriff officers can kick down a tenant’s door and throw them out this winter.
“This is welcome reprieve for tenants on evictions but only brings Scotland in line with what has happened in England.
“It would have been far better if ministers had listened to my proposals in May for a full evictions ban so that no-one would be getting served notices during this crisis.”
Mr Stewart said: “A temporary ban on carrying out evictions will give additional peace of mind to tenants over Christmas and into the new year.
“It will also prevent additional burdens being placed on health and housing services, during a time where they are already working hard due to the impact of the pandemic.
“It will allow tenants who are facing eviction, and may decide to take the opportunity to form extended bubbles over the festive period in line with relaxed guidance, time to effectively self-isolate afterwards should they come into contact with a positive person.”
He added: “Where there is evidence of serious antisocial or criminal behaviour, including in cases of domestic abuse, evictions can still proceed as normal.”
Living Rent, Scotland’s tenants’ union, said it was glad the Scottish government took action over the concerns.
In a statement, the group said: “Our member Lorraine and her union have shown that by standing together to challenge cruel landlord practices, we can win more than just respite for one family, but a respite for tenants all over Scotland.
“By working with MSPs, MPs, housing charities and lawyers, we voiced a clear message that no family in Scotland should face eviction during the Christmas period.
“The ban means no legal evictions, apart from those concerning domestic violence and extreme antisocial behaviour, can take place until January 22.
“However we will continue to push for an extended ban on the enforcement of evictions under any tier three and four restrictions. An eviction ban isn’t just for Christmas.”
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