A warning has been issued that a bid to curb private rental sector rents in Scotland could well backfire with more rises as a result.
The Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) group says a measure going through the Sottish Parliament now - the Fair Rents Bill - might have unintended consrquences.
In its response to the Call for Evidence on the Bill, which is calling for a rent cap on private rented properties in Scotland, SLE has said that unintended consequences of the Bill could see higher and more frequent rent rises becoming common place as landlords try to recoup the costs of improvement works and repairs.
SLE opposes such rent caps and its policy adviser Gavin Mowat says: “At the moment the majority of landlords do not tend to increase rents mid-tenancy. By setting out a formal process in law for rent increases, as this Bill is trying to do, then there is a real danger that landlords will look to impose annual rent increases to the maximum level to offset the future cost of maintenance and repairs.
“We are also concerned that the generosity we see being shown by many rural landlords who offer rent below market value to help vulnerable tenants will become less frequent as the flexibility to re-coup costs in future is removed by these proposals.
“There is already legislation and regulations in place which adequately protect both the tenant and the landlord. The Fair Rents Bill appears to be trying to solve a problem which only exists in some urban areas. It is disappointing that the very different rental picture in rural Scotland has not been considered.”
Opposition to the measure has also come from Historic Homes Scotland, whose chairperson Andrew Hopetoun adds: “A rent cap for private rented properties is likely to mean less opportunity for landlords to recover costs of mandatory requirements such as improving energy efficiency, repairs and managing the private water supply.
“For any landlord, these costs can be high, but for historic properties, these costs are often much, much higher and this new legislation will make it almost impossible for landlords of historic homes to recoup the costs. This could result in landlords removing their properties from the private rented sector and this could cause a shortage of rental properties in some rural areas.”
The Fair Rents (Scotland) Bill is the brainchild of Pauline McNeill, Scottish Labour MSP for Glasgow.
ARLA Propertymark says with the next Scottish parliamentary elections due in the spring, and considering the ongoing impact of the pandemic, it is possible that the Bill will fall before the poll.
However, the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee says it will consider its next steps, and the consultation responses, early in 2021.
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