0:04 AM, 7th November 2023, About a month ago 37
The SNP’s housing minister has refuted claims that the government’s rent cap policy is exacerbating Scotland’s housing crisis.
Paul McLennan denied claims the rent cap is driving up prices and reducing supply in Scotland.
Scottish ministers introduced a 3% cap on private sector tenancies in October last year to help with the cost-of-living crisis, and it is due to run until at least March 2024.
On BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show, Mr McLennan defended the government’s rent cap policy.
In a fiery exchange, the presenter said: “Your rental policy as well-intentioned as it might have been has cooked the market. People are bailing out and selling rental flats.
Mr McLenann interrupted and argued this was not the case.
He said: “No. If you actually look at the figures there are some key things. The rental costs in Edinburgh have seen a 13% increase in rental costs, very similar to Manchester, London and Cardiff.
“It is about supply and demand and this is where the concentration in Edinburgh and Glasgow has been. We need to look at how to bring more houses in these areas.”
The presenter of the programme hit back and asked the Housing Minister how the Scottish government would help people whose rents are doubling.
Mr McLeanan said: “As part of the Housing Bill we will look at longer-term rent controls.”
The presenter then questioned Mr McLennan again and asked: “Surely longer-term rent controls means landlords will just sell their flats if you make it unprofitable. The less properties to rent means the prices will go up.”
Mr McLennan disagreed and said: “It is about trying to get a balance and protect people in a cost-of-living crisis. I’ve been speaking to people in the private rented sector as it’s an important part of the housing market.
“We have got to make sure we are protecting people who are in private housing but make sure the private sector continues to thrive.”
Tory MSP Miles Briggs told The Herald newspaper: “Under the SNP-Green Government’s watch, Scotland’s housing crisis has spiralled to astronomical levels.
“In places such as Edinburgh, the situation is so bad that the council has been left with no choice but to declare a housing emergency as homelessness rates continue to soar.
He added: “The SNP’s hugely damaging rent control policy has been counter-productive. Paul McLennan’s defence of their rent cap will rightly anger individuals who are now facing huge obstacles and the prospect of becoming homeless.”
John Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL), told Property118 that rent controls in Scotland have made the housing crisis worse.
He said: “This is the Scottish government admitting that their policies have had no impact on rent levels in Scotland at all, compared with other parts of the UK. All these policies have achieved is to drive out investment in housing in Scotland, deepening and extending the housing crisis in this country.”
“With this admission of the failure of the policy to improve rents, the Scottish government must immediately change track and work with the whole housing sector to develop policies that will attract investment and improve availability of social, rented and owner-occupied homes.”
You can watch the encounter on BBC Scotland below:
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