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Rent control proposed north of the border

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has unveiled proposals to control rents and limit the power of private landlords, despite concerns that it could spell disaster for tenants.

In his keynote speech to Scottish Labour’s spring conference on Saturday, he detailed his vision to reshape the rental sector in Scotland, including the introduction of a new “Mary Barbour law” to protect tenants.

The proposed ‘Mary Barbour law’ is named after the Red Clydeside political activist who played a leading role in the rent strikes of 1915.


Leonard outlined how his party aims to introduce a private members bill that would create a new points-based system to enforce fair rents, ensuring that “no one is forced to rent a home that pushes them into poverty”.

Describing a home as a “basic fundamental human right”, Leonard explained that the points system would link payments to average wages and give tenants the power to challenge unfair rents.

Aside from give tenants the power to challenge unfair rents, it would also enable “proper standards” for health and safety and energy efficiency on private rented properties to be imposed.

Leonard, of course, is not the first member of the Labour party to propose a rent-cap.

Last year, Jeremy Corbyn’s proposed rent controls, which even Shelter, the housing charity, warned could “exacerbate Britain's housing crisis”.

A lengthening of tenancies to five years and inflation-linked controls on rent rises within those agreements is established Labour policy, but Corbyn told party members in Brighton in September that Labour would go further and directly limit rent based on models adopted in other countries.

However, Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said this would result in a reduction of rental property.

Speaking on the Radio 4’s Today programme in September, she said: “What ends up happening is landlords will just sell because they can’t make any money.

“That actually exacerbates the crisis, because you end up with an even greater housing shortage.”

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  • G romit

    OMG - some commonsense from Shelter!

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    A bold statement from a man who's party has 7 MP's out of 59 and 23 MSP's out of 128 in the Scottish Parliament. Rent controls of course are unworkable and will only cause landlords to sell up creating a shortage. If Labour wanted to ensure “no one is forced to rent a home that pushes them into poverty” then they should provide the housing themselves. Labour and Conservative both also see us as rich greedy landlords and a cash cow to be milked. The private rented sector is offering a valuable service to the government in providing good accommodation for millions of tenants. It is about time they realised this and stop bashing us at very opportunity!

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    Totally agree. The lunatics have taken over the asylum. Great to hear Shelter even slightly recognising the links between regulation and homelessness. Lets now get them to recognise how S24 and heavy levels of licensing also destroy the ability to rent homes at a reasonable price!

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    robbi snow at jrf and still spouting nonsense

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    • 12 March 2018 16:51 PM

    They don't lock them all up you know.

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    Is he going to propose controlling interest rates as well?

    How about controlling refurbishment costs? Controlling house prices? Rent defaults? Councils advising defaulting tenants to wait for the bailiffs?


    Thought not.


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