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Cost of Living Act has done little to protect vulnerable tenants charity says

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Real risk Scotland's housing emergency becomes the new normal

A leading housing and homelessness charity has warned that the Cost of Living Act, which promised a rent freeze and eviction moratorium, has had no significant impact on its clients, particularly in the social rented sector.

Ahead of an evidence session at the Scottish Parliament this week (24 January), Shelter Scotland has highlighted exemptions in the act which allow evictions and says there is widespread confusion among tenants regarding their protections.  

While often described as an “eviction ban”, tenants in the social sector can still be evicted if they have rent arrears in excess of £2,250. This is significantly below the level of rent arrears seen in most social sector cases dealt with by the charity’s legal team and means the majority, if not all, of Shelter Scotland’s clients are not protected from eviction.  

The charity has also warned that significant cuts to the budget for delivering social homes announced by the Scottish Government risks creating a ‘perfect storm,’ the inevitable outcome of which is an increase in homelessness in Scotland.’ the inevitable outcome of which is an increase in homelessness in Scotland. 

Director of Shelter Scotland, Alison Watson, said:  “This is a troubling time for the fight against homelessness in Scotland. 

“Sadly, the Cost of Living Act has had little to no significant impact on Shelter Scotland’s clients, particularly in the social sector. 

“To describe the Act as a ‘rent freeze’ or an ‘eviction ban’ is clearly not accurate when our lawyers continue to fight eviction proceedings in Scottish courts constantly and social tenants are set to see their rents increase in the coming months.  

“For those most at risk of homelessness, there was never an eviction ban at all. 

“When combined with the Scottish Government’s proposals to slash funding for new social homes an extremely worrying picture begins to emerge. 

“Delivering more social homes remains the only way to meaningfully tackle the housing emergency. We must invest now in delivering these homes, we can’t afford to do otherwise. 

“However, the Scottish Government has made its choice. The simple fact is that choice means we are facing a perfect storm the result of which will inevitably be that homelessness in Scotland becomes more widespread. 

“There is a very real risk that the housing emergency in Scotland just becomes the new normal.”