Scotland poised to introduce rent controls by next spring

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is to press ahead with introducing rent controls.

This is in the face of the Scottish Government’s own consultation, showing that seven in ten respondents were against controls,

Yesterday, in the Scottish Parliament’s version of the Queen’s Speech, Sturgeon outlined plans to introduce local rent controls through a Private Tenancies Bill as part of the SNP’s legislative programme for the next eight months.

Her move was sharply criticised by the Scottish Property Federation.

Its director David Melhuish said: “The mere prospect of rent controls could be enough to spook potential investors.

Thomas Ashdown, of lettings portal Citylets, said: “If the Scottish Government wants to increase housing supply, then the introduction of rent controls is not the way to do it.

“The latest Citylets quarterly report on the the Scottish PRS shows that for the vast majority of areas rents are barely keeping up with inflation as it is. Increasingly it would seem that this new legislation would only be relevant to parts of the City of Edinburgh and, as many commentators have noted, possibly exacerbate the lack of supply in those areas.”

A new body of agents and landlords in Scotland also added its voice to the criticisms and additionally called for two new different types of tenancy agreements.

PRS 4 Scotland wants to see a new flexible short-term tenancy agreement, plus a longer-term one for tenants aimed at staying put for between five and 15 years, or even longer.

Spokesperson Dr John Boyle said: “Scotland’s Private Rented Sector should be providing more long-term, stable, high-quality rental options for our growing tenant population, but that aim has been undermined by low levels of house building – a critical lack of supply.

“Yet the current debate around the future of the PRS in Scotland has been focused on calls for rent controls, without sufficient analysis of how these would work in practice to address Scotland’s housing crisis, or recognition of the harm they would do to tenants and landlords in practice.”

Boyle said: “The Scottish Government’s own consultation on these issues highlighted that 70% of respondents were against the introduction of a system of rent controls.”

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  1. Ewan Foreman

    There is no doubt that Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government are trying to be the voice of fairness, however their current approach is too much “let’s fix it” and not enough “let’s build it”.

    The Private Tenancies Bill is a fantastic opportunity for Scotland to start to put in place a world class PRS. It is self-evident that the way to build a great PRS is to increase opportunity (fairly) rather than remove it. There is currently NOTHING in the Private Tenancies Bill that will help to drive investment into challenging sectors of the market and in turn really help lower income households. That needs to change.

    Come on Scottish Government. Come on Scotland.

  2. marcH

    Tell-tale signs of a dogmatic rather than pragmatic view of a problem that clearly needs fixing. Flying in the face of the majority view is not the way to go. Did this so-called ‘leader’ learn nothing from the independence referendum?

  3. Jo

    Perhaps there is little awareness amongst the elected officials about the realities of the rental market.  Edinburgh, for example, has an enormous transient population who require short term accommodation.  With several universities bringing visiting professors, the Festival making the population swell for one month each year, and the enormous student population, one wonders why the esteemed members of government have selected one sector of this population to represent.  By removing the fixed term contract, landlords will lose the ability to take advance bookings as they will not be able to guarantee availability.  Students currently book their accommodation as far as 4 or 5, even 6 months ahead.  It is usually the same accommodation that is used to house Festival participants who require large apartments for their companies.  This is a very particular rental model that has been developed to meet the needs of the consumer. There are also young professionals who rent for the first few years until they are able to buy.  There is a completely different market which is long term family housing. If Edinburgh is unable to meet the needs of the various sectors of the market, there will be a tremendous knock on effect for the City as a whole.  This is a tourist City. It is also a University Town.  And, Festival City.  It is many things.  Everyone benefits from the economic advantages provided by these industries.  It is also a home.  Home owners will find that the value of their property may suffer as people start dumping their buy to let properties.

    The so called ‘research’ undertaken during the consultation period was simply a lot of banging of drums by ‘special interest groups.’  There was no measurement or survey, or any scientific research undertaken. But, this is an election year after all.


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