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Rent Controls - consultation opens for landlords and general public

Scotland’s controversial Green Party housing chief - who is part of a governing arrangement with Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party - has published details of his plans for rent controls.

Patrick Harvie - who has the title Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights - says: “Now is the time to do more for people who rent their homes, whether they are renting privately, from the council or from a housing association. Delivering a new deal for tenants is central to our ambitions for a fairer Scotland, tackling child poverty and meeting climate change targets.

“Above all else it will significantly improve the lives of Scotland’s tenants, giving them more stability, more choice over where they live and how they decorate their homes, and the confidence that their home will be of a high quality. At the same time it will recognise the interests of good quality, responsible landlords.  

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“We will be working in partnership with landlords, letting agents, tenants and others to deliver this strategy, and we want to gather the broadest range of views. I would encourage anyone with an interest to respond to our consultation.”

The huge 108 page consultation document explains that Scotland already has stricter constraints on landlords increasing rents than any other part of the UK.

The Private Residential Tenancy concept, which the then SNP-only Scottish Government introduced in December 2017, limited rent increases to once in 12 months, with a landlord required to give three months’ notice in advance of the increase; it also enabled tenants to challenge rent increases via adjudication by a Rent Officer; and it introduced the ability for local authorities to apply to Scottish Ministers to designate an area as being of Rent Pressure Zone status.

The new consultation document haas the recommendation that For private tenants seeking rent adjudication, we will change the legislation to only allow adjudications that either decrease or maintain it at the level proposed by the landlord. 

By way of explanation, the consultation document sets out: “This action would allow people to challenge in-tenancy rent increases without fear that such action could result in an increase in rent beyond that being proposed by the landlord in the rent-increase notice. It would still balance the rights of landlords and tenants, as the rent that a landlord has fully considered and set themselves, could either be maintained or reduced.”

A further recommendation is that there should be, in principle, a national Scotland-wide system of rent controls rather than the Rent Pressure Zones that exist now. However, the document contains the controversial recommendation: “National rent controls only apply to the Private rented sector.” 

Details for the national rent controls are thin, even in the full 108-page document, but it says: 

“Vision for future rent controls: Tenants pay affordable and reasonable rent for good quality homes, helping to support efforts to reduce poverty and improve outcomes for low income tenants and their families.

“Underlying principles for national rent controls:

• They will have an appropriate mechanism to allow local authorities to introduce local measures.

• They will be evidence based.

• Their design will support and encourage the private rented sector to improve the quality of rented properties.

• Policy development on rent control legislation will seek to learn from the processes already in place for social sector tenants in relation to rent levels.

• Policy will be developed taking into consideration the views of all stakeholders but with a particular focus on giving private tenants a stronger voice.”

 

 

The rest of the document includes proposals on:

- increasing penalties for illegal evictions and stronger enforcement;

- restricting evictions during winter;

- giving tenants greater flexibility to personalise their homes and keep pets;

- introducing a new Housing Standard to apply to all homes;

- establishing a private rented sector regulator to uphold these standards and ensure the system is fair for both landlords and tenants;

- setting minimum standards for energy efficiency, making homes cheaper to heat while contributing to Scotland’s climate change targets.

The consultation closes on April 15 and you can see the full document here.

Want to comment on this story? If so...if any post is considered to victimise, harass, degrade or intimidate an individual or group of individuals on any basis, then the post may be deleted and the individual immediately banned from posting in future.

  • George Dawes

    Here we go …

    Rent controls never work , then again neither do politicians

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    They are Renters they don’t own it, there is a big difference. Rent a car it’s not yours you don’t own it, you can’t paint it a different colour and you have to give it back. Of course if they want all those rights no problem but your own, lay down the law to the lender tell them everything they must do to suit you. Control poverty that’s not Landlords remit, Control the Mother’s.

  • Mark Wilson

    'rent increases via adjudication by a Rent Officer' will not be practical or possible due to the volume, therefore rents will be adjusted in some % method not necessarily upwards. Exit via the gift shop, this is coming south of the boarder to a town near you.

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    Consultation in your dreams. After an exhaustive in depth analysis of the many comments we have received, this is what we’re going to do … exactly what we want. Will this increase or decrease the number of rented properties available, no consultation required. Wait for the EPC requirements for largely Victorian stone built buildings or more fun in Edinburgh Conservation areas.

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    Yep EXACTLY what we want. We are not indebted to tenants or serfs. It’s gonna me my way, cya I’m selling or convert to short rentals (more cash everyone)-. Thanks Shelter much appreciated

     
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    Look at what the Government has tried to control.

    Energy cap. How's that going?

    Minimum wage. Shows employees what others are willing to work for. Very few unskilled jobs pay more.

    Banning higher interest rate for unauthorised overdrafts. Most overdrafts now 39%.

    Banning sex discrimination on car insurance. Young girls now pay far more but the same as young boys.

    Banning discounts for new insurance customers. Rates increasing for everyone on 1 January.

    Banning sex discrimination on state pensions. Women now waiting an extra 5 years.

    Please explain how any of the above interferences have helped people?

    Let market forces do their job.

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    This is the problem with a coalition. You get green nutters promoted to their level of incompetence. Be careful what you vote for!

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    I cannot wait. Gonna make much more money whilst I’m in this game. Tenants in competition with themselves offering bribes lol. Annual increases I love it. Good news everyone. I might get a Bentley Thanks Shelter much appreciated

  • George Dawes

    Hahaha , nice one Jahan

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    Job title sounds Mike its a made up
    Mc Job.
    My apologies to Mcdonalds.
    They at least provide real jobs and opportunities.

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