NICOLA Sturgeon has announced a ban on evictions over Christmas and New Year.

New evictions have already been suspended because of the Covid pandemic to stop people who have lost income during lockdown also losing their roof.

However eviction actions which began before the outbreak have been reactivated in recent weeks, leading to fears families could be made homeless over Christmas. 

MSPs had raised distressing examples in the Holyrood chamber, including a West Lothian woman with a disabled son facing imminent ejection by sheriff officers.

At FMQs, Ms Sturgeon announced new regulations would now also prevent pre-Covid evictions going ahead between December 11 and January 22.

She said evictions would only be lawful in “exceptional circumstances” such as anti-social and criminal behaviour by tenants and to help prevent domestic abuse.  

She said: "The Scottish Government took early action to effectively ban evictions that might result from the Covid pandemic.

"The legislation that does that is in place until March 2021.

"However, it does not apply to eviction actions that were raised before the pandemic, which is a matter that has been raised in the chamber by Andy Wightman, Pauline McNeill and others.

"The Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning, Kevin Stewart, has now decided to go further in providing safeguards.

"Therefore, I confirm that we will introduce regulations to legally prevent enforcement of eviction notices during the sixweek period from 11 December to 22 January, unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as antisocial or criminal behaviour, or cases of domestic abuse."

The change brings Scotland closer into line with England, where regulations have already banned court officers from evicting people November 17 and January 11.

Green MSP Andy Wightman, who raised the West Lothian case last week, said: “I am delighted that the First Minister has finally recognised the urgent need for more protections for tenants during this pandemic. 

“These new regulations will ensure that no sheriff officers can kick down a tenant’s door and throw them out this winter.

“This is welcome reprieve for tenants on evictions, but only brings Scotland in line with what has happened in England. 

“It would have been far better if ministers had listened to my proposals in May for a full evictions ban so that no one would be getting served notices during this crisis.

“As we look towards creating a fairer post-Covid Scotland, the pandemic has raised wider questions about whether anyone should be ordered to leave their home during a Scottish winter. France, for example, does not allow it to happen in a normal year.”