Home evictions have continued in Grampian and the Highlands despite the Scottish Government passing legislation intended to halt the process and protect tenants during the pandemic.
Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council have undertaken 32 evictions between them since the start of January, while Highland Council has served five and Moray Council served two.
Since the introduction of Scottish Government legislation in April which hoped to give private and social rented housing sectors more flexibility, around 20 households have been handed eviction notices across the north and north-east.
The news comes as homeless charities said they fear a “tsunami” of removals once the legislation comes to an end in March 2021.
Mark Thomson, Aberdeen manager for Shelter Scotland, said the numbers show the threat of eviction “has never totally gone away from Scotland’s renters”.
He added: “The real questions are around what comes next as furlough ends and unemployment is expected to rise – there is also the issue over whether people will ever be able to catch up with rent arrears that have accumulated since lockdown.
“The restrictions aren’t stopping renters accruing arrears and we are absolutely clear as an organisation that renters should not be the ones left paying the cost of the pandemic.
A recent survey by housing charity the Joseph Roundtree Foundation found that 47% of renters who have experienced a drop in income since March are worried about their ability to pay their landlords.
Shelter Scotland is calling on the Scottish Government to set up a national fund to support tenants in the private and social sectors who can’t access support elsewhere.
Mr Thomson said a newly-introduced hardship fund by the Scottish Government “simply replaces one debt with another”.
He added: “We need a more definitive solution to make sure these rent arrears can be paid off and are not left hanging over people, which then leads to further evictions and potentially homelessness.”
John Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords, said many of the eviction notices served since April in the north of Scotland would have been issued before the lockdown closure of Scottish Courts.
However, he also called for the Scottish and UK Governments to provide support for struggling tenants.
Mr Blackwood said: “Encouraging landlords and tenants to work together is the most effective way of ensuring a key part of the Scottish housing sector does not collapse.
“We have been clear throughout the pandemic that there is inadequate financial support for tenants and this must be urgently addressed.”
Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “No one in Scotland should face eviction during this emergency period.
“Emergency legislation is in place until 30 September, which requires landlords to follow extended notice periods before they can go to the Sheriff Court.
“Where a tenant has been financially impacted by the pandemic, landlords should be flexible and work with them, signposting them to the financial help available to help prevent rent arrears.”