Landlords consider legal action over Scotland’s rent freeze

Landlords and letting bodies have joined forces to challenge the Scottish government’s rent freeze and eviction ban legislation.

The coalition, formed between the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL), Propertymark, the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) and Scottish Land and Estates (SLE), is looking for legal advice on whether the emergency legislation passed in just three days last week was lawful.

The coalition is seeking a legal opinion on the validity of the Scottish government’s Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) Scotland Bill, which is intended to be in place until at least March 2023.

The coalition has instructed the Lord Davidson of Glen Clova KC, Advocate at Axiom Advocates, to opine if the legislation breaches the individual rights of landlords in Scotland, including a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

If Lord Davidson’s opinion, due within the next month, makes clear a breach of landlords’ rights has occurred, the coalition is expected to consider all legal options.

John Blackwood, SAL chief executive said: “With a heavy heart, SAL, in partnership with SLE, the NRLA, and Propertymark is taking legal counsel about the Scottish Government’s rent freeze and eviction ban legislation.

“Seeking a legal opinion has been our last resort because our concerns are not being listened to by the Scottish Government.

“This emergency legislation is high-minded in spirit but lacking in the kind of detail landlords need assurance about. Uncertainty for landlords only creates ambiguity for tenants, and I do not think the government appreciates the level of confusion it has now created.

“We have repeatedly said we are all willing to work with the Scottish Government and ministers. This is a tough time, but that does not excuse ill-designed legislation that may be the final straw for the private rented sector.

“We are gravely concerned that in a bid to do something to help tenants, the Scottish Government have forgotten the underlying stresses in the PRS that we have been warning about for years.”

Ben Beadle, chief executive of the NRLA, added: “Tenants across the country are already facing a supply crisis in the PRS. Far from making things better, a rent freeze will mean less choice for tenants, making it more difficult for them to access the housing they need.

“A viable and thriving PRS is vital to a healthy housing market. Sadly, the actions of the Scottish Government damage this objective and will ultimately hurt tenants the most.”

Sarah-Jane Laing, chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates, which represents some of the largest providers of housing in rural Scotland, commented: “Mr Harvie repeatedly claimed that the Bill achieves the balance between tenants’ and landlords’ rights to ensure legislative competence, but we do not share his views.

“The acute shortage of properties available for rent in rural Scotland is stark and such legislation will only exacerbate the situation – to the detriment of the rural economy and communities.”

Nathan Emerson, Propertymark CEO, added: “The concern we hold over this new legislation is the lack of evidence and rushed consultation before large decisions are being made that will significantly impact the use and ownership of property.

“Landlords and agents alike have proven their ability over the pandemic to work with tenants, many landlords have kept their rents lower in a bid to help but it must be acknowledged that their costs are rising too. This legislation is huge for the sector and the impact on those providing much needed homes must not be underestimated.”

 

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One Comment

  1. Scottish_Mist42

    On their present course the SNP/Green coalition will destroy the PRS in Scotland.
    It is an indictment of 15 years of housing policy failure by the SNP.
    I really hope these organisations follow through with legal action expose this policy what what it is – ideological claptrap.
    Saw a pro-SNP lawyer in Scotland post he didn’t think the bill went far enough – had to check my calendar to make sure it wasn’t 1st April.      

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