Scottish government sets out long term rent control plans

Today the Scottish government has published the Housing (Scotland) Bill, which contains proposals for a new system of rent controls in Scotland.

The proposals go further than the Rent Pressure Zones (which have never been implemented in the seven years they’ve existed), with councils being able to designate Rent Control Areas for periods of time, with the government’s approval.

How much rents could go up by would be decided based on the local market, but significantly rents would be controlled between tenancies rather than within tenancies only.

It will still take some time for Rent Control Areas to come into force, with local assessments and consultations needed – as well as the Bill to make its way through the Scottish Parliament.

In the meantime, the existing cap on rent increases within tenancies of 3% expires at the end of March, to be replaced with new transitional protections, which tenants can use by challenging excessive rent increases at a tribunal. Rent rises adjudicated in this way will be capped at 12% or lower, depending on the local market. To help tenants facing increases understand their position, the Scottish Government has set up an illustrative rent increase calculator which can be viewed here.

The proposals under the Bill are welcome, and show that rent regulation in Scotland is here to stay. Scotland continues to lead the UK in protecting tenants from unfair and unaffordable rent rises, and this Bill is evidence of what renter campaigns can achieve, with Living Rent deserving a lot of credit for this legislation.

The proposed system has the potential to improve the tenant experience in Scotland but it needs to be designed well, so it can be implemented and enforced effectively. For example, as it stands, the local nature of the regulation could lead to tenants outside of rent control areas facing unaffordable rent increases.

The government must also make sure that landlords share accurate rent data, that tenants don’t face sudden, unaffordable rent increases that could force them to move out, and that there are no loopholes that landlords could abuse to avoid the controls. The underlying cause of unaffordable rents – the availability of homes to live in – must also be addressed, particularly through the building of new social housing.

Nevertheless, alongside new rights around pets and decoration, this is another positive step forward for renters in Scotland, and we look forward to working with the Scottish Parliament to make the Bill as strong as possible.


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