Scottish Labour party launches new bid to outlaw ‘unfair’ rents

Labour has introduced a Bill in Scotland which will introduce a further clampdown on rents.

The so-called Mary Barbour Bill, proposed by Pauline McNeill MSP, seeks to enforce fair rents by the introduction of a points-based system.

It would link rents to average wages to ensure affordability, and give tenants powers to challenge rents and seek reductions.

Rules on restricting rent rises to once every 12 months are already in force in Scotland, via the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act, but the new Bill would go further. Labour says that it would ensure that no one is “forced to rent a home that pushes them into poverty”.

The Bill is named after Scottish campaigner and socialist heroine Mary Barbour, who organised rent strikes, actively opposing evictions.

At First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “We have seen the return of private landlordism and rents have soared whilst wages have stagnated.

“According to the Scottish Government’s own figures, over 40% of all children living in the private rented sector are now living in poverty. That is 60,000 children.”

He added: “We think that private rent rises should be capped and controlled. So Nicola Sturgeon has a choice, will she take the side of rogue landlords and a broken housing market – or she can back Labour’s plans, and back our Mary Barbour Bill.”

South of the border, Housing Secretary James Brokenshire has rejected rent controls, but Labour supports them.

In recent years, Scottish housing legislation has set a precedent for what happens in England and Wales – notably the tenancy fees ban and the abolition of ‘no fault’ eviction.

A consultation on the Bill is at

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  1. ArthurHouse02

    Why are there rent controls at all? The market should be allowed to move freely to set rents via supply and demand, that is how a free market economy is supposed to work.

    High rents are not the problem, low wages are. Austerity, companies dodging the minimum wage, government bowing to companies like Amazon who pay a pittance and have questionable working conditions are the problem not rents.

    If you are a big company you get tax breaks and huge benefits, if you are a small company or individual you get punished to make up for the other!

    1. IWONDER36

      Well said.

  2. downdoobydodowndowndubaduba

    Just another reason for Landlords to stop investing and leave the market place. Time to put the sensible hat on I think

  3. RosBeck73

    I wonder how they will set the rent on a penthouse apartment compared to a bedsit – if both are to be linked to local wages. Dictating the price someone can charge on the ‘free market’ linking it to something unrelated to the price (which has to be based more on house prices, what the owner paid, their costs and so on as well as the market) is actually outrageous. Nothing is seen from the landlord’s or business owner’s point of view. This is worse than rent caps; this is rent manipulation. Are they also going to raise the rents which can be charged when the local wages are high? I pity the Scottish landlord, but of course we will be next as the Tories are copying everything the left do and trying to go one up on them and Labour of course will then try and out-do them by going even further with extreme anti-landlord policies. They’re whipping themselves up into a frenzy.

  4. kittygirl06

    I bel there were higher rent percentage increases in the social and council sector.  They pay peanuts on the housing benefit now that very few areas will it cover the rent. 

  5. Will2

    There is little doubt that residential property investment is no longer the place to be for private investors. The policitions of all colours want it to be a hostile environment for investors.  I hope for these politicians have a plan for providing and paying for housing if they wish to take over the responsibility for. That also goes for Shelter and Generation Rant – provide housing and stop complaining if you want to be REAL charities.

    1. JMK

      I cannot believe just how stupid our politicians are.  Nowadays it seems a necessary requirement to be confirmed as completely clueless before going into politics.

      If all these things that didn’t work decades ago why do they think they will now?  I’d love to hear their answers to that question.

      1. Gromit

        Politicians are just playing up to win the populist vote.

        Presumably Labour will also be putting price controls on food, utilities, Council Tax, etc as well for the same reasons!

  6. The_Maluka

    I trust that there will also be a house price cap related to local wages?

    1. RosBeck73

      Ah yes, of course. That will be easy to do. Sounds even more extreme than the Venezuelan experiment.

    2. Gromit

      …. and on god’s, utilities, Council Tax and of course the essential state-of-the-art mobile phone.

      1. The_Maluka

        Especially Council Tax.

  7. Woodentop

    There is little doubt that residential property investment is no longer the place to be for private investors with roughly 90% of private landlords in the UK being individuals who will see this as an affront to their rights. PRS is being nationalised and this could be the straw that breaks the camels back. One can expect a mass exodus of rental properties? 
    The people at fault are not private landlords, it is the states failing to provide its own housing and stealing the PRS.
    According to the Scottish Government’s own figures, over 40% of all children living in the private rented sector are now living in poverty. That is 60,000 children.”
    That is a shocking indictment of government failing, not PRS.

  8. Deltic2130

    They want to have the ability to LOWER rents?? They seem to have confused us with being charities (I was going to say social housing, but they are raising theirs dramatically!). How do they propose to do this? As Ros says, how does the rent get worked out  between a single room and a stately home? Plus the other thing these left wing numpties obviously haven’t realised is that this is benefitting the rich – if someone better off is quite happy to pay £1000 a month for a desirable area but now only has to pay £500, they’ll be creaming it in whilst the landlord doesn’t pay as much tax nor spend as much in the economy! The total, utter fools.

  9. Jason Coombes

    What formula are they going to be using to work out what exactly is an ‘unfair rent’ i hope that the Scottish Government have a safety net for a) social housing needs – expansion is inevitable as they keep battering the PRS b) employment benefits for an influx of workers from the private housing sector. It is a sad fact that with a lack of investors / properties redundancies as well as more branch closures will be inevitable. Scotland seems to want to be the envy of the world in terms of ‘fair rent’ what they are actually doing is destroying a free market. Is this socialism or a lean towards communism?

    1. Woodentop

      Fascism is a form of radical, right-wing, authoritarian ultranationalism, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy.

  10. IWONDER36

    Why not go the whole hog and lower the voting age to 6?
    That way MP’s can offer free Unicorns to anyone who votes for them.
    Don’t be fooled tenant’s, once they have your vote you won’t matter to them half as much as you think you do and you’ll have already lost the good agents who do look after you.  


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