MSPs will consider emergency legislation in Holyrood tomorrow that would “effectively mean that nobody can be evicted” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill, if approved by MSPs, will provide further powers alongside those agreed in the UK legislation last week, which also appy to Scotland.

The Bill, which will be debated in Holyrood tomorrow, on the only day the parliament is sitting this week, will include protections for those who rent their homes - safeguarding them from evictions during the coronavirus outbreak.

The current three month notice period for tenants to be evicted will be temporarily doubled to six months.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “On the issue of evictions, I make clear that the legislation will cover that. It will take legislative steps through extending the notice period that landlords have to give before they can evict somebody.

“It will effectively mean that nobody can be evicted during this emergency crisis period and that is absolutely right.”

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She added: “Many people will be falling into difficult financial circumstances because of the response to Covid-19. While there is a lot of help available, it may not be available for everybody immediately - there’s waiting times for Universal Credit, for example.

“Some key business support understandably takes a little bit of time to come on stream - so it’s really important that we give people this support that they need.

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“We would not think it is acceptable for anybody, private rented tenants or social rented tenants, to be facing eviction and losing their home during this period.”

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme, Constitution Secretary Mike Russell added: “We're going to temporarily extend the notice to leave period landlords must apply... it's presently three months, it will become six months for almost all grounds.

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"There can be little worse than imagining in the midst all of this insecurity that you're not secure in your home as well. We have to be absolutely sure that we do everything we can to make sure people are secure in their homes.

"There is the suspension of statutory time limits, a lot of issues to do with the serving of documents and being served electronically, there are issues with community payback orders - those clearly can't take place in the way they're doing at present and we have to deal with those."

Shelter Scotland has welcomed the proposals but urged caution over illegal evictions taking place.

Alison Watson, Director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Shelter Scotland welcomes the legislation on evictions that is due to go through parliament. It will go some way to reassuring people who are worried about losing their homes at a time when we’re all being told to stay home to save lives.
“We still have some concerns about possible illegal evictions and we think the government and councils should be advising landlords that anyone who evicts someone illegally just now will be putting their registration at risk.”

The Scottish Greens will attempt to strengthen a ban on evictions. 

The party's proposals would temporarily remove the ability for landlords to serve their tenants with notice to leave and introduce measures to allow students to get early termination of their leases in private student accommodation. 

Scottish Green housing spokesperson Andy Wightman said: “While I welcome the Scottish Government’s move to guarantee no evictions during this crisis, the extension of the notice to quit period to six months is not strong enough.

"No-one should be in receipt of a notice to quit during the emergency period. After all, we don’t know how long this crisis will last. Also, students should not be forced to pay for accommodation they cannot use.”