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If you can’t pay your bills because of coronavirus

This advice applies to Scotland

There are things you can do if you're struggling to pay your bills because of coronavirus. This includes things like your:

  • rent
  • council tax
  • mortgage
  • energy bills
  • court orders
  • tax bill

It’s important you don’t ignore your bills. Speak to the organisation you owe money to - they might be able to help by letting you pay smaller amounts or take a break.

It’s also worth checking with your bank or building society - they might be able to help you with your debts or let you delay loan or credit card repayments.

Some bills can cause you more problems if you don't pay them. It's worth checking what bills you should pay first.

Check if something is a scam

Make sure you only use trusted sources of information and help about coronavirus and your debts.

Don’t give money or personal details to anyone you don’t know or trust – for example, if someone knocks on your door and offers to help.

You can check if something is a scam.

If you've got less money because of coronavirus

If you’ve been affected by coronavirus, you might be able to claim benefits or get more money on your current benefits if:

  • you have coronavirus, or you’re following guidance to stay at home
  • you’ve lost your job 
  • or you’re self-employed and can’t get work
  • you can’t work because your workplace has closed 

Check what benefits you can get if you’re affected by coronavirus

Check if you can get help from the Scottish Welfare Fund. You might be able to get a grant to help you pay for things that you need, such as food, gas, electricity or household goods. You’ll need to apply to your local council. Find details of your local council on the mygov.scot website.

If you can't pay your council tax

You might qualify for a council tax reduction if your income has dropped or if you started claiming benefits recently.

You should check your local council's rules to see if you qualify for a council tax reduction or use our check my council tax tool to see if you can reduce your bill.

If you don't think you qualify for a reduction

If you don't think you qualify, it's still worth asking your local council if you can get a reduction or other help with the bill. You should continue to prioritise paying your council tax and your rent or mortgage.

If you're struggling to pay, ask the council if they can be flexible about your payments due to coronavirus. They might agree to a payment plan or to delay taking action against you for missed payments. Check their website for council tax advice.

You can find your local council on GOV.UK.

If you can’t pay your rent

You should explain the situation to your landlord straight away - they might give you more time to pay.

You still need to pay your rent. If you’ve fallen behind with your rent, you should start dealing with rent arrears. You can also check if you can get extra financial help

If your landlord doesn’t offer to be flexible with your rent payments, it’s a good idea to pay as much as you can afford and keep a record of what you discussed. 

You should also contact your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau - an adviser can help you explain things to your landlord. 

If you can't leave the house to pay your rent

Ask your landlord if you can pay your rent in a different way, like an online transfer. If this isn’t possible, you could try to find a friend or family member you trust to go and pay the rent for you. 

Make sure you get a receipt, in case your landlord doesn’t realise you’ve already paid. 

If you're worried about being evicted

Unless you live with your landlord, they can't evict you without following the correct legal procedure in either the sheriff court or the First-tier Tribunal (Housing and Property Chamber), depending on the type of tenancy you have. If your landlord changes the locks or tries to make you leave without a court or tribunal order, this is illegal. 

The Scottish government has introduced a new law to protect tenants from eviction if they’re struggling to pay rent because of coronavirus. If you’re behind with your rent, your landlord can only evict you if:

  • they give you six months' notice
  • the First-tier Tribunal decides it's reasonable to evict you in the circumstances.

The First-tier Tribunal has postponed all hearings and case management discussions until at least 28 May 2020. No new eviction orders can be granted before this date.

If you already had a hearing or case management discussion scheduled, the tribunal will contact you to tell you it has been postponed. Read more about tribunal hearings and the coronavirus on the First-tier Tribunal website.

Find out more about how housing is affected by the coronavirus on the Shelter Scotland website

If you can’t pay your mortgage

If you can’t pay your mortgage because of coronavirus, you might be able to have a six-month payment holiday. You won’t be able to do this if you’re behind with your payments.

If you can, keep making your payments until your mortgage provider agrees you can take a payment holiday.

Get in touch with your mortgage provider to find out more. 

You can also find out more about dealing with mortgage problems.

If you can’t pay your energy bills

Speak to your energy supplier as soon as you can. You might be able to set up a payment plan with them to help spread the cost of your bills.

Find out more about what to do if you’re struggling to pay your energy bills

If you have a prepayment energy meter

Your supplier will try to help you find ways to keep your energy supply connected if you can’t top up your meter because of coronavirus. 

Tell your supplier as soon as possible if you can’t top up. You’ll find their contact details on their website or on your bill.

Check our advice on what to do if:

If you can't pay your tax bill

If you're struggling to pay your tax bill, you should speak to HRMC straight away. You can call them on their coronavirus helpline:

HMRC coronavirus helpline
Telephone: 0800 0159 559
Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm
Calls to this number are free.

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