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‘Bedroom Tax’ advice for landlords

However, the policy remains set to come into force in April, and the Scottish Government has already made extra funding available to help provide advice and support for those who will lose out.

The Minister has now also written to landlords across Scotland to encourage them to consider the example of Dundee City Council, which is protecting tenants who genuinely cannot make up the shortfall in rent caused by the bedroom tax, which comes into force in April.

The Council has committed that, where the Director of Housing is satisfied that affected tenants are doing all that can be reasonably expected to in order to avoid falling into arrears, they will use all legitimate means to collect rent due, except eviction.

The letter also makes landlords aware that in certain circumstances it may be possible to reclassify rooms so they are not considered bedrooms. For example, this may help tenants who use an extra room to store equipment related to a disability and therefore do not use that room as a bedroom.

Burgess said: "I have made the Scottish Government’s opposition to the bedroom tax absolutely clear. Indeed, I put the case for it to be scrapped in the strongest terms to Lord Freud when we met in London.

"Sadly there appears to be indifference to this argument at Westminster, despite strong opposition from across Scotland.

"This will undoubtedly be leaving tenants, some of whom could lose a quarter of their housing benefit in April, seriously worried.

"That is why we have made an extra £2.5million available to social landlords to ensure people affected by housing benefits changes have the advice and support they need. That is on top of the £5.4million we have already provided to advice services to help those affected by benefit reforms.

"I have now written to landlords to encourage them to look sympathetically on tenants affected. We already have strong safeguards in place to ensure eviction is an absolute last resort. While we do not want to see tenants run up debts they cannot pay, it is important, in what will be challenging times, that extra consideration is given to people who are having housing benefit taken away.

"Dundee City Council has taken innovative action on this, clarifying that, where tenants are doing all that can be reasonably expected in order to avoid falling into arrears, they will use all legitimate means to collect rent due, except eviction. I know other councils are also working towards a similar position and I hope landlords across Scotland can follow this example.

"There are also circumstances where a bedroom’s classification may be changed and tenants not penalised.  Again, I would encourage landlords to consider this possibility and work with their local authority if at all possible.

"But we simply cannot mitigate all the negative impacts of welfare reform or the bedroom tax.

"This illustrates that rather than simply trying to cushion the blows in Scotland, we need the powers of independence to cut them off at source. It would be far better to control benefits and welfare so unfair policies like the bedroom tax are not even considered, let alone implemented."

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