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Landlords can still have a say about rent control

The Scottish Government’s consultation on whether to scrap controversial rent pressure zones in favour of controls on how much tenants should pay for their homes is open for another month.

The Fair Rents (Scotland) Bill will scrap Rent Pressure Zones (RPZ) that currently allow councils to ask ministers to cap rents in designated neighbourhoods if tenants are struggling to pay the cost of housing. But many councils find proving unaffordable rents is too challenging.

Labour MSP Pauline McNeill is proposing a new law to cap rents for new and existing tenancies at inflation plus 1 per cent.

The new rules will require landlords to list the rents they charge with councils every time the amount is changed.

Rent officers will have the power to deny an increase if a tenant lodges a successful appeal against a rise.

Exemptions would include a property coming to the market for the first time or landlords spending significant amounts on property improvements.

“Rent increases can be well above the rate of inflation,” said McNeill.

“This can lead to hardship, poverty and even homelessness. My bill will cap rents and require landlords to register what they charge.”

In her introduction to the bill, McNeill explains that RPZ are not working and more action is needed to help tenants.

“The bill will tackle rising rents in the private rented sector by capping annual rent increases. Rent Pressure Zones, which were brought in by the Scottish Government to control rents in designated high pressure areas, have not worked and we need an alternative,” she said.

“There is no doubt in my mind that much greater reform is needed of the private rented sector to create fairness and improve standards; however, it is a larger commitment and would more practically be achieved by the Scottish Government.

“I propose to begin by making significant changes to housing law to start reshaping the private rented sector in Scotland.”

The consultation runs until 6 August 2019.