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Scottish Labour hopeful calls for ‘stringent rent controls’

Richard Leonard, the Scottish Labour leadership candidate backed by supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, has called for ‘stringent’ rent controls to be introduced north of the border, in order to make housing more affordable.

The MSP, who launched his campaign for the Scottish Labour leadership on Saturday, believes that a rent cap would prevent landlords from ripping off tenants.

“I want to see legislation to enact stringent rent controls and measures to encourage landlords to improve properties,” he said.


Writing for iNews last week, Leonard said he wanted to create a “Mary Barbour law”, after the celebrated activist who led protests against spiralling rents in Glasgow during the First World War.

Leonard has publically stated that he favours a Dutch-style system, where private rental properties are graded based on a series of criteria such as size, facilities and amenities, allowing a fair value to be set.

Under his plans, a national regulator would be introduced to assess the fairness of any proposed rent hikes from landlords against an index, informed by a range of indicators such as inflation and benefit levels.

Any landlord proposing above-index rent rises would have to justify these to the regulator by demonstrating how the property had been improved.

He wrote: “I want to see legislation to enact stringent rent controls and measures to encourage landlords to improve properties: a ‘Mary Barbour’ law.

“There will of course be howls of outrage from the rentier interest. But if we are to be a movement for real change, we must be prepared to face down the complaints of the few in the interests of the many.

“We as a party can live up to the example set by ‘Mrs Barbour’s Army’ and show at least the level of determination and ambition of the women of the Glasgow slums a century ago.”

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  • icon

    Labour continue to be unelectable...

    They have banged on about rent control for at least the last 2 x elections and it has got them nowhere.

    Sounds to me like they are still out of ideas.

  • icon

    I would go along with this idea only if it encompasses 'stringent tenant controls' whereby tenants mindlessly damaging property or stealing or failing to pay their fair rents can be brought to book without expensive court and bailiff action by the landlord.
    Politicians who think there are votes in 'Landlord Bashing' want to get real and look carefully at the problems between landlord and tenant, then come up with suggestions to mitigate those problems, not just mindlessly trot out suggested policies that make them look good but in effect creates more damage to the sector by over legislating thereby turning away many prospective landlords.

  • John Gell

    Has Richard Leonard seen the ONS data on rent trends in Scotland, I wonder? (1.5% fall over the last 2 years.) Is he aware that after the last rent control scenario in the 1970s it took a whole new Housing Act to re-grow supply?


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