Campaigners for Living Rent, Scotland’s tenants’ union are calling for Scotland-wide rent controls to alleviate hardship for Scottish private tenants.
Living Rent says that the current system is forcing people into poverty with “sky-high rents” and slum-like conditions according to a recent report in The Herald.
Legislation in place in Scotland already gives local authorities in locations of high demand (Rent Pressure Zones) to impose a form of rent control commonly referred to as “rent stabilisation”.
However, Living Rent feels that the situation in Scotland warrants a more radical approach, with full rent control across the nation.
Official statistics show the average rent for a two-bedroom property in Edinburgh rose by a third in the seven years to 2017 – more than double the rate of inflation, says The Herald report.
Gordon Maloney of Living Rent insists that the Scottish Government needs to take urgent action with regards to what landlords can charge in rent adding: “Tenants can’t wait. If we are serious about ensuring affordable, decent housing for everyone in Scotland, then we need proper rent controls now.”
Together, Living Rent and the left of centre think tank Common Weal, have recently published a report which calls for a points-based system of rent control which would be linked to the quality of the rental property and the amenities provided, not local market rates.
This, they argue, would encourage landlords and letting agents to make improvements, similar to a system now operating in the Netherlands. Under their system rents would not just be capped, but actully brought down from their current levels – and controls would apply to the entire country “by default”, they say.
The Living Rent / Common Weal report claims that rents across Scotland are far too expensive, with “increases continuing to outstrip both inflation and wage increases for many tenants” and that low income groups are being housed in “woefully inadequate” accommodation.
With existing powers yet to be implemented with regard to “rent stabilisation” in Scotland’s major cities, Robin McApline of Common Weal doubts they ever will be and states that effective rent controls are urgently needed to “tip the balance back in favour of tenants”.
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