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Signs that Scottish private rent freeze could become permanent

There are early signs that the controversial private rental sector rent freeze in Scotland could be made permanent.

The freeze, along with an eviction ban, came about as a result of so-called emergency legislation - the Cost of Living (Tenant) Protection (Scotland) Act 2022 - passed in the autumn by the Scottish Parliament, where an informal alliance between the Green Party and the Scottish National Party forms a majority. 

The law was to last for six months until April 2023 but had a provision that it could be extended for two additional six month periods - the first of these has now been confirmed with Green Party politician and Scottish Government tenants minister Patrick Harvie saying:  “Clearly, there are still economic challenges facing private renters and there is not the opportunity to agree a collective voluntary approach in the private rented sector … I would anticipate that it will remain necessary and proportionate to extend the rent cap provisions beyond March 31 in the private rented sector.”


However, Propertymark - the letting agents’ trade group - says it believes Harvie is working on proposals for a long-term permanent rent freeze, beyond that allowed by the current emergency legislation. 

A statement from the group says: “The Minister [Harvie] admitted that he is already developing long term proposals for rent control that will be designed to continue after the Cost of Living Act has expired.”

The Scottish Property Federation has long opposed the concept of the rent freeze with director David Melhuish saying: “Scotland faces a chronic undersupply of rental housing across both public, private and student accommodation sectors, and this emergency legislation will make this situation much worse. 

“There is a pipeline of new rented private accommodation estimated to be £3.5 billion earmarked for Scotland. This could deliver thousands of new high-quality and energy efficient homes for renters. We fear this legislation will now undermine the likelihood of many of these complex and capital-intensive projects actually being delivered any time soon.”

Timothy Douglas, Propertymark’s head of policy and campaigns, says: “Once again, the Scottish Government has failed to acknowledge what is happening in the private rented sector and the damage that legislation capping rents is causing. Unlike for providers of social rented accommodation there has been no task and finish group for the private rented sector to formally raise our concerns.

“Alarmingly, the minister also failed to acknowledge the impact of planned future legislation for the private rented sector that also includes energy efficiency targets that many landlords will struggle to afford. 

“We have recently written to the Deputy First Minister expressing our dismay at the budget decision to raise taxes when purchasing buy to let property as there is clearly a lack of basic understanding on the economics of supply and demand. It seems non-sensical that on the one hand the Scottish Government is increasing costs for investing in the private rented sector and on the other hand accusing landlords of increasing rents.”

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  • George Dawes

    Temporary measures usually end up permanent , look at the last few years and the so called emergency powers

    Sneaky underhand

  • Kevin

    If this doesn’t cripple the PRS, nothing will. I have great sympathy for any landlord in Scotland that hasn’t raised rents in years and now faces higher interest rates. This should be a wake up call to the rest of the UK. Get as close to market value, whilst you still can.

  • James B

    Landlords have had it in Scotland

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    Scotland has had it, this was always going to happen, we can now see that if England looks to be adopting this… get out… and do it quick. The recent CGT changes oddly make it easier to sell the lot in one go. The issue is if they bring anything in on an “ Emergency Basis”, then we are in trouble. 👎🏻


    Totally. The pandemic was reason. Now it's been done it's easier to do it again and again and make increasingly bad policies.

  • icon

    I'm in Scotland. I haven't raised rents on some of my properties in a long time. I'm getting out as soon as I can but it seems that all control has been taken away. Ban on rent increases, ban on evictions? But they'll still keep throwing more legislation at us and hoops to be jumped through. I can't wait to be rid of my portfolio, which sadly, was supposed to be my pension. Well done Scotland!!!


    This is my fear, we will be trapped and forced to keep renting out OUR properties, and have no control over the never ending legislation coming our way 😱😱

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    Landlords are slowly being subjected to surfdom. An enforced existence put upon us. Basically slavery!
    What should anybody be made to own a property longer than what they want to because legally they are at the behest to a minimal subscriber ie the tenant

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    • A JR
    • 16 January 2023 10:54 AM

    This is nothing less than the sequestration of privately owned housing and the beginning of the kind of extremist politics that we need to firmly push back. Shame on these political numbheads.

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    I’d have had more respect for them if they’d have been honest from the start and said rent freeze for the foreseeable future followed by permanent rent controls. The government can’t do anything without lying.

    This will not end well for anyone. Yes rents will be cheaper, but renters will have to get used to being one of dozens scrabbling for every available property. Then there will be the black market sub letting that happens everywhere that this is introduced long term - criminal gangs renting out properties from landlords then subletting them for several times their market value.

    It will truly become an absolute mess.

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    If this came in, in England, they would effectively be stealing our properties 👎🏻

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    I've just been approached by a lettings agent to sell properties way above current market prices.

    The potential buyers are well heeled parents of students worried sick about the difficulty in getting a good property to rent in Glasgow. Their solution is to buy now and then sell on to further parents when their offspring graduate. Since this won't be an additional property if bought in the student's name, the new 6% additional property penalty won't apply and the capital gain if sold on in graduation will be exempt from CGT.

    Another unexpected consequence of the SNP'S war on Scottish Landlords. They might be able to outlaw blind sealed bids from potential tenants but can't outlaw similar well established sale procedures.

    Yet again, the poorer tenants will be those who suffer most, but a win win win for beleaguered landlords wanting out quickly, for well heeled parents avoiding several years of rental payments and for their student kids building up a deposit nest egg, funded in part by their fortunate flatmates who will be lodgers and thus totally unprotected in contrast to the rights they would otherwise have enjoyed as joint tenants.

    Of course the SNP and their little Green helpers will deny that this is happening as they deny the current shortage in rental properties and their hand in causing it.

    Now where did I put those Rolls Royce and Sunseeker yacht brochures?


    Very interesting Robert. I'm as far away as possible from you, sunny Bournemouth, yet I've had a similar conversation with an agent recently. I have a recently refurbished 5 bed detached student house that I'm thinking about selling this year. Rather than the standard investor market, he'll be marketing to the well heeled Home Counties set who'll be after a nice house for their son/daughter to live in for their Uni years, and they can have it pay for itself to boot!


    I did think about doing the same when my youngest daughter went to uni in Plymouth, what put me off was the 6+ hour trip down there when things went wrong, had she have been closer I likely would have


    Andrew, agreed re maintenance. This one has had everything done to it (new kitchen, new bathrooms, new boiler, new carpets and redecorated, EPC C, even a new lawn!) so the marketing will very much be along the lines of very low maintenance


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