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Tenancy in Scotland: New Rent Controls in 2023?

New Rent Controls in 2023?

Scotland is on the brink of significant changes in its housing sector. With the Scottish Government’s recent pledge to introduce measures enhancing tenants’ rights and protections, the landscape of tenancy in Scotland is set to undergo a transformation. Let’s delve into the nuances of these proposed changes and the broader implications for the housing market.

Enhanced Rights and Protections for Tenants

First Minister Humza Yousaf has unveiled plans for a new housing bill, the cornerstone of the government’s New Deal for Tenants. This initiative is part of a broader strategy to address homelessness and the pressing issue of housing supply shortages in Scotland.

The Programme for Government, as presented by Yousaf, outlines several key measures:

  • Empowering Local Councils: The proposal would grant councils the authority to increase council taxes on second homes.
  • Reviving Empty Properties: An allocation of £60 million is earmarked to transform vacant properties into affordable housing units.
  • Investment in Affordable Housing: The government plans to channel £750 million into the development of new affordable homes. Notably, 10% of these homes will be situated in rural and island communities.

Yousaf highlighted the challenges posed by the cost-of-living crisis, exacerbated by a housing market struggling to meet demand. He emphasised the Scottish government’s commitment to crafting a solution tailored to Scotland’s unique needs, in collaboration with key stakeholders from both landlord and tenant groups.

Rent Freeze and Eviction Ban: A Recap

In September 2022, the Scottish government took decisive action by reintroducing a rent freeze and an eviction ban. These measures primarily remain in effect, with evictions currently on hold and in-tenancy rent hikes capped at 3%. However, this legislation has not been without controversy. A coalition comprising landlords and letting groups, including the Scottish Association of Landlords, has sought a judicial review of the legislation, with a decision still pending.

A Different Perspective: The Real Crisis?

While the focus has largely been on the Private Rented Sector (PRS), it’s essential to highlight a crucial point: the PRS isn’t in crisis. Year on year, there’s been no decline in the number of private landlords, and PRS evictions are on the decline. So, where does the real problem lie? The answer might be in the Social Rented Sector. The sector has been under scrutiny, especially with the government’s recent admission of falling short of their promise to build 110,000 homes over 11 years, just two years into the timeline.

In conclusion, while the Scottish government’s efforts to enhance tenant rights and protections are commendable, addressing the root causes of the housing challenges is vital. A holistic approach, encompassing both the private and social rented sectors, is the need of the hour.