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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Millions in grants for struggling renters in Scotland and Wales  

Governments in Scotland and Wales have announced new help for private renters. Renters who have struggled with rent arrears as a result of COVID-19 can apply for grants to help with this debt. 

Scotland commits to £10million in grant funding for private tenants  

The Scottish Government announced a new £10million grant fund at the end of June 2021.  It will also launch a national campaign to raise tenants' awareness of their rights. The government hopes these measures will allow for a "sustainable and fair" recovery from coronavirus.  

The government will work with stakeholders to develop the detail of the fund.  

Welsh Government announces similar £10million fund to help struggling renters  

The Welsh government issued a press release about its own fund within days of the Scottish announcement. 

The Tenancy Hardship Grant is a £10million fund. It will work to prevent homelessness by "helping people address their rent arrears and keep their tenancy". The Welsh scheme is further developed than the Scottish fund. Payments should begin in July. Private renters will be eligible if 

  • they are not getting housing-related benefits, and 
  • they have fallen behind on their rent by more than eight weeks between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2021. 

Help for renters in Northern Ireland  

Renters who are struggling in Northern Ireland do not, yet, have access to similar funds. The NI Assembly legislated for longer notice periods to protect private renters from eviction. But, it has not announced any extra financial help for this group. The main changes to financial assistance have been: 

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit private renters hard in Northern Ireland. Almost 75% of people who contacted our helpline with concerns about coronavirus were private renters.  

Private renters in Northern Ireland continue to struggle and need help

Prevention of homelessness is at the heart of these initiatives from the Welsh and Scottish governments.  Northern Ireland has paid for failing to invest in homelessness prevention in the past. A 2017 National Audit Office report highlighted the human and financial costs associated with homelessness in Northern Ireland.  

The combined effects of the pandemic and years of welfare reform on private renters have been harsh. Housing Rights believes that 

This article was written on 19 July 2021. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.