Scottish Housing Minister’s pledge to collaborate on rent controls sparks debate

Scottish Housing Minister’s pledge to collaborate on rent controls sparks debate

0:03 AM, 25th June 2024, About 3 weeks ago

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Scottish Housing Minister vows to work with landlords to make rent controls work.

In a housing emergency debate, Paul McLennan says he will meet with the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) but gave no further details on when this will take place.

However, a coalition of housing organisations, including Shelter Scotland, warned they have no confidence in the Scottish government’s housing plans.

Landlords play a vital role in housing market

The Scottish Housing Bill aims to bring in long-term rent controls which has sparked uncertainty leading landlords to leave the market.

However, Mr McLennan says he wants to work together with landlords on rent controls and promises to meet with the Scottish Association of Landlords.

He said: “We continue to engage with stakeholders to ensure that the rent control measures in the Housing (Scotland) Bill will contribute to our vision of a private rented sector that works for tenants and responsible landlords and is attractive to investors.

“We need all parts of Scotland’s housing market to work together to tackle the housing crisis.

“I believe that the private rented sector plays a vital role in addressing housing need.

“I will meet the Scottish Association of Landlords to discuss what its role will be in an all-tenure approach.

“We will build on instances of successful joint working already in place. I urge landlords and other partners to continue to work together to explore what more can be done.”

Rent controls are not the answer

However, a property firm has warned rent controls are not the answer to solve Scotland’s housing crisis.

David Alexander, the chief executive of DJ Alexander, Scotland’s largest lettings and estate agency, said: “I welcome the minister calling for a housing sector wide approach, but this needs to be backed with a realistic plan to amend the proposed policy on rent controls.

“Without that policy being revisited and changed to allow rent increases in the future the level of investment in Scotland’s private rented sector will continue to be restricted.

“The time for action is now rather than at some point in the future and everyone involved in the sector needs a detailed breakdown of changes to the Housing Scotland Bill and the Heating in Buildings Bill which will make investing in the private rented sector an attractive proposition in the future.”

Mr Alexander points out that Mr McLennan’s statement lacked concrete details.

He adds: “While Housing Minister Paul McLennan’s statement on the housing emergency in Scotland contained warm words and talk of collaboration it contained no detail on precisely how this is to be taken forward.”

“There may well be more meetings and discussions planned but realistically we need to have action sooner rather than later.

“Mr McLennan stated that his government is committed to “rent control measures that contribute to a private rented sector that works for tenants and responsible landlords and to investors” and that he “believes that the private rented sector plays a vital role in addressing housing need” but there are no actions to back this up other than details of further meetings and a call for a collaborative approach.”

Lack of political will

Shelter Scotland and other housing coalition members expressed disappointment at Mr McLennan’s statement and argued current plans do not go far enough to tackle Scotland’s housing emergency.

A joint statement issued by the coalition said: “It’s extremely disappointing that, despite having declared a housing emergency, the Scottish government has made clear that it intends to proceed with business as usual.

“This morning, this unprecedented coalition of leading housing and anti-poverty organisations, which includes members of the Scottish Government’s own Housing to 2040 Strategic Board, urged ministers to change course.

“We made clear that restoring the brutal cuts to the Affordable Housing Supply Programme would be an important place to start. Our call has not been heeded.

“Current plans have the right aims, but they’ve been fatally undermined by spending cuts at both Holyrood and Westminster, an absence of accountability for delivery, and a lack of political will.”

The coalition urges First Minister John Swinney to meet with the coalition and for the Scottish government to build more homes.

“If the First Minister isn’t willing to invest his political capital into a new approach, then existing structures simply cannot deliver the response Scotland needs.

“We would urge the First Minister to meet with us, urgently, so that we can discuss how he and his government can change course and build more homes for the 10,000 children in Scotland who need one.”

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