Rent controls, possibly ensuring that rents do not exceed 25 per cent of household income, are poised to be introduced into part of the UK.
The deal between the Scottish National Party and the Green Party to ensure a majority government north of the border included a series of commitments which both groups of politicians say they share - with rent controls close to the top of the list.
In a document outlining issues with the support of both parties, published over the weekend, it says an objective of the new Scottish Government will be to “implement an effective national system of rent controls, enhance tenants’ rights” as well as delivering 110,000 affordable homes by 2032.”
Green Party co-leader Lorna Slater says: “With the COP26 climate conference coming to Glasgow, Scotland is in a position show real leadership on climate. But this deal is about people as well as the planet. Together, we would deliver a new deal for tenants, giving tenants more rights and introducing rent controls to help tackle Scotland’s housing crisis.”
And Nicola Sturgeon, who remains First Minister, adds: “I am delighted that the Scottish Government has reached a ground-breaking agreement with the Scottish Green Party that meets the challenges and opportunities of our time … The agreement delivers bold policy action on pressing issues. A commitment to more affordable housing, a better deal for tenants and action to tackle poverty and inequality.”
Rent controls have been a favourite Green Party policy for several years, across the UK; the party was also influential in Scotland in pushing the SNP administration to extend the eviction ban on several occasions during the pandemic.
No details of the scale or timetable of rent controls have yet been released by the newly-linked ruling parties at Holyrood.
Under the SNP’s Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) 2016 Act, Scottish councils have had the power to ask Scottish Ministers to designate a Rent Pressure Zone.
An RPZ is an area within which private tenants cannot have their rent raised by more than the level of the Consumer Price Index plus one per cent each year, for a duration of five years. However, few councils expressed any interest in this.
The Greens are now likely to demand something much more substantial.
In its manifesto for the May elections this year, the Scottish Green Party stated: “The Scottish Greens will introduce a cross-cutting goal of ensuring that housing costs represent no more than 25 per cent of a household’s income, including a points-based system of rent controls.
“The SNP’s Rent Pressure Zones have failed. It’s time for proper rent controls. Tenants unions will be absolutely key to all this, so we need to ensure all private tenants are aware and have access to one, as well be informed about their rights and welfare entitlement.”
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