15:32 PM, 12th September 2022, About 3 weeks ago 20
The rent freeze that was announced last week for private landlords in Scotland has been criticised by one leading letting agent who says that the plan is already ‘unravelling’.
The agent made his call after Patrick Harvie, a Green minister, told the Daily Record that the move was temporary, but he also hinted that the rent freeze may not expire at the end of March.
He told the newspaper that circumstances may change, and the Scottish Government would revisit the rent freeze and the moratorium on evictions and decide whether they should continue.
Mr Harvie also said that decisions would have to be made for different sectors and pointed out that social landlords in Scotland have a duty to consult with tenants before a rent rise is imposed and any decision must be linked to affordability.
He said that since the same protection is not available in the private rented sector, the impact of the rent freeze needs to be revisited to see whether it continues.
However, he also pointed out that private landlords who tried to keep the rent low during the Covid lockdown were respected by him, but he criticised the ‘disreputable end of the private rented sector’ because he said there had been ‘eyewatering increases’ in rent.
The minister also rejected claims by Scottish landlords that a rent freeze would stop unoccupied properties from being made available to rent.
Mr Harvie told the newspaper that he did not think that landlords would not re-let a property just because there’s a freeze on rent increases.
However, the Scottish minister also highlighted that some landlords had abused their power and these behaviours ‘will not be permitted’.
He also said that increasing rents is an ‘unbearable cost to tenants’ in the PRS.
The minister could not add more detail to the Scottish government’s plans which has led to one leading letting agent saying he thought the plans are ‘unravelling’.
Landlords in Scotland have already criticised the government for introducing a rent freeze without negotiation and now David Alexander of DJ Alexander in Edinburgh says was not impressed that Mr Harvie could not give details on how the rent freeze will affect rent rises or evictions already underway.
Apparently, the details are still being worked out by civil servants.
Mr Alexander said: “The minister in charge of the policy seems to have little or no understanding of how it is to be implemented is both shocking and damning.”
He added that the policy appears to have been put together to gain publicity and distract from the appointment of a new Prime Minister – and that the Scottish Government does not understand or even know its own legislation.
Mr Alexander said: “The whole process has been one of short sighted, ill-considered opportunism with little concern for the lives of the tenants and landlords that it affects.”
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