The Scottish Government has proposed extending coronavirus laws until next March
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has welcomed proposals to extend emergency housing powers to prevent evictions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
Constitution secretary Mike Russell announced the plans this week, which could see legislation designed to tackle the impacts of the virus extended until March 2021.
He told MSPs: "We're mindful of the call from stakeholders that provisions of the legislation in its areas such as housing have provided vital protections for individuals throughout the pandemic and that there is a continuing need for them.
“I can now confirm that before the end of this month we will lay regulations which will with Parliament's agreement seek to extend the Scottish Acts from 30 September to 31 March.”
CAS said the move was necessary to protect tenants who, through no fault of their own, had suffered financially during the crisis.
Between February and June the charity has seen a 22% rise in the number of people seeking information about housing, climbing to 35% among private sector tenants.
The number of people asking for advice on private rent arrears has jumped by 300% over this period, CAS said.
Nina Ballantyne, CAS social justice policy manager, said: “So far during the current crisis, the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 has given vital protection to tenants who are concerned about their ability to pay rent.
“We made clear to the Scottish Government that withdrawing it before the full economic impact of Covid-19 is understood would risk a rise in homelessness and destitution, so we are pleased to see today's announcement and hope MSPs will support this extension when it is brought to parliament.
“As emergency financial support schemes wind down, there is growing risk of a housing crisis. Whilst significant action will be needed to deal with the issue of mounting rent arrears, this would be the first step to ensuring legal protection over winter is extended to prevent evictions.”