Following a new power-sharing partnership between SNP and the Scottish Greens in order to secure a majority in the Holyrood Parliament, the transformation of the private rented sector is poised to be introduced in Scotland to provide greater security for tenants, improve standards and regulate rents.
In what is a 50-page agreement between the two parties, it states:
“We therefore agree, as part of the Rented Sector Strategy to be published by the end of 2021, to deliver a new deal for tenants. This new deal will be developed in consultation, and will:
– create a new housing regulator for the private rented sector to improve standards and enforce tenants’ rights
– enhance tenants’ rights, including through greater restrictions on evictions over winter, providing additional security for tenants
– introduce new rights for tenants, for example giving tenants greater flexibility to decorate their home and to keep pets
– put in place additional penalties and compensation for illegal evictions
– implement an effective national system of rent controls, with an appropriate mechanism to allow local authorities to introduce local measures.”
Although the details of the measures likely to be imposed are yet to fully emerge, the Scottish Greens pledged in their manifesto for the May elections this year that they would 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.”
“Rent controls are not the answer”
However, it is not nationwide rent controls that Scotland needs, but “proper enforcement of existing rules, additional supply and more social housing,” says the letting agents trade body ARLA Propertymark.
Scottish representative and policy maker for Propertymark, Daryl McIntosh comments: “At a time when demand for privately rented homes is massively outstripping supply, several of the Greens’ proposals risk deterring private landlords from the market.
“The Private Rented Sector provides a vital service in the housing system and recently this contribution feels forgotten – surely an ill thought through policy objective.”
He adds: “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.”
Following a consultation, expected in the coming nine months, a final Rented Sector Strategy will be published and then a Housing Bill introduced in the second year of this parliamentary session. Rent controls are expected to be implemented by the end of 2025.