The letting agents’ trade body ARLA Propertymark has made a very cautious approach to the Scottish Government over its strident pledge to introduce rent controls.
The recent partnership announced between the SNP and the Green Party, in order to secure a majority for Nicola Sturgeon in the Holyrood Parliament, includes a Green pledge to introduce rent controls north of the border.
Details are sketchy so far but in its manifesto for the May elections this year, the Scottish Green Party pledged to “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.”
It went on: “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 as be informed about their rights and welfare entitlement.”
Now the new SNP-Green government has even appointed a Minister for Tenants’ Rights, Patrick Harvie, who has reiterated the pledge to introduce strong rent controls.
ARLA Propertymark has responded to this, in cautious terms, with a statement to Harvie saying: “It is vital that the introduction of any new legislation is based on evidence, as overly burdensome blanket policies are likely to have a negative effect on the sector.
“At a time when demand is far outstripping supply, Propertymark is concerned landlords, many of whom have also been personally affected by the pandemic, coupled with pre and post pandemic regulatory changes, will either sell up or turn to the short-term letting market diminishing the much-needed supply of housing even further.
“There is widespread support for measures to tackle the rogue element of the sector, and Propertymark members, who take their role in ensuring the properties under management are safe and compliant very seriously, are keen to see the raft of existing regulations adhered to by all and properly enforced before new rules are considered.”
In a similarly buttoned-down tone, Daryl McIntosh - policy manager at Propertymark - says: “The private rented sector plays a crucial role in the housing system, providing homes to people who cannot, or simply do not want to, own their own home and for whom the social rented sector is not an option.
“We ask that the Scottish Government show careful consideration before introducing additional regulations to the sector. We continue to see landlords feeling the pressures of endless legislative changes and are exiting the market. Additional pressures could see the sector further crumble.
“Working in collaboration with our members, stakeholders, politicians and parliamentarians we aim to continue to raise the standards across the entire industry ensuring people can rent affordable, warm and safe homes from reputable landlords.
“We congratulate Patrick on his new appointment as Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants' Rights and look forward to working with him on future topical issues to collaborate effectively and provide the best solutions for the Private Rented Sector moving forward.”
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