The Scottish Government has announced a new support measure for private landlords - The PRS Landlord (non-business) COVID-19 Loan.
This will provide short-term support for landlords where tenants are having difficulty paying rent as a result of the impacts of COVID-19. Landlords should be engaging with their tenants to manage these difficulties and this loan is intended to support them to do this.
The interest free loan is available for PRS landlords who:
- were, or had applied to become, registered before 01 February 2020;
- are not classified as businesses;
- have 5 or less properties available for rent in Scotland that are classed as being within the private rented sector (as per the terms of the 2006 Housing Act)
- have lost rental income as a result of tenants facing difficulty in paying rent as a result of the COVID-19 situation or where a rental property became vacant on or after 01 February 2020 and the landlord is unable to get a new tenant because of the restrictions currently in place.
Currently the loan scheme will only cover lost rental income for a single property, although landlords can indicate if they are losing income from other rental properties as well. This is to enable the Scottish Government to establish the full impact on the sector and whether additional support is required where multiple tenants are unable to pay their rent. We would suggest that this support will be needed therefore it is important that you provide full information in any application so that this is introduced as soon as possible.
Landlords will be able to apply for a loan to cover lost rental income for a period of up to 6 months, backdated to 1 March 2020. An initial payment of half of the agreed amount will be made but landlords will require to verify continued loss of income before any second instalment is paid
Initial repayments will be deferred until October 2020, with the loan being repaid in 12 monthly instalments. The loan can be fully repaid at any point and requests for extension of the payback period will be considered on a case by case basis.
The intention of this loan scheme is to provide an option where other forms of financial support are unavailable to the landlord. Where a landlord is eligible for other forms of support – for example the Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme - then they would be expected to take these up rather than apply for this loan.
Mortgage lenders are making 3 month repayment holidays available in line with UK Government commitments. The Scottish Government has indicated that landlords facing difficulties with mortgage repayments for a rental property are expected to first seek a mortgage repayment holiday from their lender before any application for this loan.
In all circumstances, landlords should engage with their tenants, and make them aware of the COVID-19 support measures available to them. Where the landlord is applying for this loan in respect of loss arising from their tenant being unable to pay their rent, it is expected that they will have discussed rent issues with the tenant and reached agreement on managing rent arrears before they apply for the loan.
The scheme is open for applications now and if you have any questions about this then please do not hesitate to contact Duncan Raggett, a member of our dedicated COVID-19 support team who can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are unsure about what Government support package is available to your business, we are here to help. We have created a simple toolkit that cuts through the noise and makes you aware of exactly what help is available to you. It takes a few minutes to fill out and you can find it on our COVID-19 Information hub.