08 Sep 2022
Setting out the programme for government for the next 12 months First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Monday announced to the Scottish Parliament that emergency legislation will be introduced to bring in a freeze on rent increases and ban evictions in the private and social rented sector in response to the cost of living crisis.
These measures will be in place until at least 31 March 2023 and it was made clear that the freeze on rent increase will apply immediately.
The lettings industry responded angrily to the announcement.
John Blackwood, Chief executive of the Scottish Association
of Landlords stated : ““Once again the Scottish Government fails to
grasp the reality of Scotland’s housing crisis and has chosen the easy option
of attacking landlords for political reasons which will only further reduce the
supply of housing, putting more people at risk. This is not a solution,
it will only cause more hardship.
“In just a few weeks, we will see more stories of students and others who can’t find suitable accommodation. We warned of this last year and nothing was done but no one should be in any doubt where the blame for that new crisis will lie. It will be at the door of Bute House.”
“Despite reassurances from Scottish Ministers that they value the role private landlords play in provided much needed housing, we are astounded that once again they have chosen to attack landlords at a time when they should be encouraging landlords and tenants to work together to overcome financial hardship.”
Timothy Douglas, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Propertymark commented “It is not only tenants who are exposed to the effect of the cost-of-living pressures and as a key housing provider, private landlords will be asking what help they can expect to manage any additional costs they may have to bear as a result of the Scottish Government’s announcement.
Furthermore, it’s unfair to suggest letting agents and their landlords will be routinely increasing rents at a time when many tenants are facing a further strain on their finances. All parties will need to continue to work together.
We know the Scottish Government is committed to a system of rent controls and is already considering a ban on winter evictions. What’s most alarming is that this feels like déjà vu with the potential for these new temporary protections to become permanent as has been the case with others introduced during the pandemic.”
Adrian Sangster, Aberdein Considine’s Leasing Director added “Increasing rental levels have become somewhat of a hot issue in Scotland and whilst much criticism is levelled unfairly at landlords ultimately much of the responsibility sits with the politicians at Holyrood. The news that the Scottish Government are seeking to freeze rents and ban evictions may reflect well in the court of public opinion but it is an admission that there has been a failure by Holyrood to properly address Scotland’s chronic housing shortage. It is vital that the industry and Scottish Government work together to ensure the best balance between protection for tenants and support for landlords and I would urge decision makers to proceed with caution as any short term knee-jerk decisions could result in some unintended consequences, causing more harm than good.
Industry representatives met with the minister in charge of these policies on Tuesday (Patrick Harvie MSP, Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants' Rights) seeking further clarification.
Mr Harvie was unable to provide any information on how the rent freeze and eviction ban will work. Nor was he able to provide any information on how they will affect rent increase notices already issued or eviction action already commenced. He advised that the detail of the policies is still being worked on by civil servants who will make further announcements in due course.