New constraints on Scottish landlords increasing rents now look unlikely after the country’s parliament announced there wasn’t enough time to scrutinise proposed legislation.

Holyrood’s local government committee blamed its failure to properly scrutinise Pauline McNeill MSP’s (picture, above) Fair Rents (Scotland) Members Bill on a heavy workload, which means this is now unlikely to be debated before next year’s Scottish Parliament elections.

The Bill aims to radically reform the sector by linking rents to average wages and providing more information about rent levels.

It outlines a cap on annual private sector rent increases across Scotland at one percentage point above inflation and calls for landlords to update the landlords register to include changes in rental charges, so a picture of market rates can be built up.

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It also hopes to overhaul rent appeals; when a tenant contests the amount, officers and members of the tribunal could either lower or maintain the rent, depending on their assessment but, unlike the current system, couldn’t raise costs.

McNeill says she’s extremely disappointed by the committee’s decision “I appreciate that time is tight between now and the end of this parliamentary session, but the Bill proposed important measures to protect renters and improve housing affordability,” she says.

 “The need for these measures was great before the Covid-19 crisis but lockdown has intensified the need for change in this sector.” She has promised to try and have it scrutinised by another parliamentary committee instead.

Mike Dailly, a solicitor advocate at Govan Law Centre, who helped to draw up the Bill, says: “Lockdown has meant a massive increase in rent arrears – what could be more important than discussing fair rents in Scotland? Unless the Scottish Parliament embraces Pauline McNeill’s bill, Scotland will continue to fail private renters when it comes to social justice, equality and fairness.”

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