Labour is the latest political party to call for rent controls following similar pleas from the Green Party and the Scottish Nationalists.
Paul Sweeney, Labour’s shadow minister for public finance and employment in the Scottish Parliament - and a former Labour MP at Westminster - tweeted his demands for rent controls over the holidays.
“We need rent controls in Scotland, and we need them now. For too long, landlords have had total control: ratcheting up rents well above wages while neglecting maintenance” he wrote on Twitter.
“Together we can end the the rip off rental market in Scotland and provide good quality housing for everyone” he continued.
The suggests that Labour has now joined with the governing alliance in Scotland - consisting of the SNP and Greens in an informal ruling pact giving a majority in the Holyrood Parliament - in backing rent controls.
Just before Christmas Scotland’s controversial Green Party housing chief, Patrick Harvie - who has the title Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights - announced: “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.
“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.”
He was launching a 108 page consultation document explaining 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.
Harvie’s rent control proposals for the whole of Scotland is set out in the consultation document thus:
“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.”
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