Scottish Labour has launched a petition calling for an evictions ban and rent breaks for tenants in response to the coronavirus crisis.
Nicola Sturgeon said at First Minister’s Questions she “would rule nothing out” to protect people from being evicted from their home as a result of impact of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The First Minister said the Scottish Government will take action against any social landlord “contemplating raising eviction proceedings”, while extending the period protecting private tenants from eviction over rent arrears from three months to six months.
Scottish Labour’s petition demands all evictions should be banned during the crisis and for the Scottish Government to underwrite public and private-sector rent breaks.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “Owner-occupiers have been given the assurance of a mortgage holiday, meaning they will not lose their homes if they fall behind with payments.
“Renters deserve the same assurance. We need action now for a rent break and a ban on evictions resulting from this crisis but we are also clear that there can be no going back to business as usual when this crisis is over.
“Tenants should never again face the fear that they could lose their home as a result of a public health emergency.
“I would encourage people across Scotland, of all party affiliations and none, to sign our petition and join our campaign to ensure no-one loses their home as a result of this pandemic.”
At First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie warned the coronavirus crisis is leaving many renters with the choice between losing their home and racking up debt while the threat of eviction remains in place.
Ms Sturgeon told MSPs the Scottish Government will challenge any landlord in the social sector “contemplating” evicting people and insisted no-one should lose their home due to the outbreak.
Mr Harvie asked: “I’ve heard from landlords who are being responsible and recognising people’s needs but also from people being forced out of their homes using a range of existing grounds for eviction – not just rent arrears.
“The Scottish Government’s announcement yesterday will still leave people facing a choice between the threat of losing their home at this dangerous time or building up unpayable debts over the coming months, while in many cases their landlords are benefiting from a mortgage holiday.
“Isn’t it clear that we need a complete ban on evictions during this crisis, on any grounds, and a rent holiday for those who need it?”
Ms Sturgeon told MSPs the Scottish Government “will not hesitate” to intervene in issues “that put people in an unfair position” during the crisis.
She added: “We will continue to look at the action we can take and need to take and I rule nothing out and want to rule as much in as possible.
“But let me say today, categorically, as First Minister – no-one should face eviction because of rent arrears accrued as a result of the coronavirus.”