Scottish Parliament to consult on rent controls – Will we all follow?Make Text Bigger
There has been a trend in the Private Rental Sector for the UK to follow Scottish legislation and the general theory is that the various pieces of legislation have been introduced in Scotland and the market is still working well.
In reality the changes to the market in Scotland has come at a heavy price to tenants (particularly in Edinburgh). Rents have soared as landlords have moved over to the unregulated short term lets market.
From 2007 to 2013 Rents rises in Edinburgh followed inflation however since 2013 rents have risen 30% above inflation. https://www.citylets.co.uk/research/datahub/ This ties in with the introduction of various pieces of legislation such as the ban on agency fees, Installation of mains wired smoke detectors, Legionella Risk Assessment and Electrical Safety legislation. In recent years there has also been the introduction of a new tenancy regime that limits the control landlords have for dealing with anti-social behaviour.
Now to deal with soaring rents the Scottish Government are consulting on introducing Rent Controls. In reality without admitting that they have over-regulated the sector and rolling back the legislation this is the only way that they will stop rents from increasing. Unfortunately, this will only result in an affordability crisis turning into a supply crisis as has happened in Sweden.
A proposal for a Bill to protect private sector tenants by introducing measures to limit rent increases and to increase the availability of information about rent levels has been introduced by Scottish Labour. Proposed by Pauline McNeill MSP, the party said its Mary Barbour Bill will see the introduction of a new points-based system to enforce fair rents.
It would also see rents linked to average wages to ensure they are affordable, give tenants the power to challenge unfair rents or submit rent reduction claims and ensure that all private rented properties meet proper standards for health and safety and energy efficiency. Rules on restricting rent increases to once every 12 months was a key part of the Scottish Government’s Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act, which came into force in December 2017.
However, Labour said the Mary Barbour law would regulate the private rented sector to ensure that no one is “forced to rent a home that pushes them into poverty”. Speaking at FMQ’s last week, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “We have seen the return of private landlordism and rents have soared whilst wages have stagnated. “According to the Scottish Government’s own figures, over forty per cent of all children, living in the private rented sector are now living in poverty. That is 60,000 children.”
He added: “We think that private rent rises should be capped and controlled. So Nicola Sturgeon has a choice, will she take the side of rogue landlords and a broken housing market – or she can back Labour’s plans, and back our Mary Barbour Bill.”
An online consultation on the Bill has been launched and will close on August 6.
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