Regulation and rent control part of Scottish new deal

Introduction of rent controls is a ‘key aim’ of proposed reforms to Scotland’s private rented sector laws. These also include increased regulation including appointment of a private rented sector regulator.

So says an introduction to a newly published Scottish Government consultation paper, A new deal for tenants.

This is in part the product of the ‘Bute House agreement’ in which the Scottish Green Party Parliamentary Group agreed to work with the Scottish Government over the next five years.

Setting out a ‘Draft Rented Sector Strategy’, the consultative document is open for comment until next April, with a final version of the strategy promised by the end of 2022. This will include a timetable for necessary legislation including a new Housing Bill. It is envisaged that rent controls will be in place by the end of 2025.

Besides rent controls and appointment of a sector regulator, the draft strategy includes proposals for creating a new Housing Standard covering all homes and setting minimum standards for energy efficiency and zero emissions heating.

In its previous Housing to 2040 paper the Government had set out ambitious aspirations that meant everyone living in Scotland would have access to safe, warm, affordable, high quality and energy efficient homes, said Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, Shona Robison in a ministerial foreword to the paper.

‘I am determined that we make the long-term changes that are required to improve outcomes for people and communities, as outlined in Housing to 2040. This Draft Rented Sector Strategy delivers on an important early commitment and is a positive step forward in taking forward those changes needed in the rented sector to deliver a new deal for tenants’.

In his ministerial foreword, Green Party SMP Patrick Harvie, Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights, said the proposed new deal for tenants in Scotland would give them more secure, stable, affordable tenancies with improved standards of accommodation and more flexibility to personalise their homes.

‘Improving affordability by introducing an effective national system of rent controls is a key aim.

‘Our new deal for tenants will also improve security. We will review the grounds leading to an end of tenancy; deter landlords from undertaking illegal evictions by increasing penalties and compensation for tenants; and will build on the success seen in preventing evictions during the pandemic by considering new restrictions to evictions in winter.

‘To embed a strong, rights-based approach, we will also introduce a new housing regulator for the Private Rented Sector, to improve standards and to ensure the system is fair’.