As Scotland goes to the polls on Thursday 6 May, we have published our manifesto of policies the next government in Holyrood must adopt to create a fairer rental market.
In recent years Scottish renters have gained a number of new protections, which are currently denied to private tenants in England and Wales. Landlords can no longer evict tenants without a reason, which provides some security, but tenants are still vulnerable to unaffordable rent increases and loopholes that allow landlords ways around this legislation.
For example, there is evidence that some landlords have abused grounds where the tenant is not to blame, for example by evicting tenants under the pretence to move into the property, only to then re-let it again shortly afterwards. And not a single council has imposed a Rent Pressure Zone - though whether they would give renters adequate protection from rent hikes is another question.
When landlords break the law penalties are pretty strong for some offences but way too lenient for others, including renting out unsafe homes. The government needs to raise penalties so that criminal landlords don't see them as "a cost of doing business".
Since 2006, private landlords in Scotland must register with their council and pass a Fit and Proper Person test to let out property. However, tenants have no way of knowing about a landlord's history of deposit claims, of legal actions made against a landlord at tribunals, and other important information which would make renters more informed when looking where to rent.
Private renters need a better deal. Generation Rent is calling on candidates in the Holyrood elections to commit to supporting:
- Measures to improve security of tenure with new restrictions on no-fault evictions
- Limits on rent increases
- Tougher penalties for landlords who break the law
- More situations where renters can withhold rent from non-compliant landlords
- Improvements to landlord registration to give renters more information about their home