Plan to cut rents and payments to landlords submitted to Scottish Government

The Scottish Government has been urged to back sweeping rent controls to bring down housing costs and cut payments to landlords.

Living Rent, a trade union representing tenants, has proposed a “points” based system linking rent to income and the quality of properties.

Spokesperson Gloria Dawson said: “The government’s failure to address the need for affordable, quality, energy efficient homes represents a huge missed opportunity to combat the cost-of-living crisis.”

SNP and Green Ministers last year launched a consultation on a “new deal” for tenants, who have complained bitterly about rip-off rents.

The consultation ends this month and Living Rent has hand delivered thousands of responses from tenants demanding better housing.

According to the union, rents have risen by 10% in Edinburgh, Glasgow and across the central belt over the last year.

They estimate that a two bedroom flat in Edinburgh now costs upwards of £1100 per month.

Living Rent also cites research which claims that over half of homes in Scotland have some disrepair to critical elements like roof coverings.

Their solution is to link rent to a range of factors instead of simply allowing landlords to determine the cost.

Under their plan, rents would be tied to the standard of housing as well as incomes.

There would also be clearer penalties for landlords who refuse to make repairs, and sanctions if energy efficiency was not improved.

Living Rent are also calling for tenants to have the right to home comforts like pets or being able to redecorate their homes.

Dawson said: “Every day, our members bear the brunt of the housing crisis. With rent continuing to skyrocket despite poor quality housing and stagnant wages, it is clear that our housing system is geared towards landlords, leaving many tenants in a dire financial state.

“This is why we’re asking for affordable, quality, secure homes built on a system of rent controls, and a society where tenants have a say and control over their homes.

“We know the landlord lobby is well funded. We’re sure that they will try hard to ensure that their interests are protected and that they will come out in force to say that the rental sector is well regulated and rather, ask for greater protections for landlords.”

At a council level, the SNP have promised to implement rent controls in Edinburgh if they run the city after May’s local elections.

SNP council leader Adam McVey said: “Rent controls operate successfully in Sweden, France, Germany and Ireland and we’ll work with the Scottish Government to get the policy right so that we can keep rents at fair and affordable rates for residents.”

Scottish Greens MSP Ariane Burgess said: “Living Rent make a vital contribution to the plans for rent controls in Scotland. They are right to say that Rent Pressure Zones have failed and that the system must be more robust.

“Greens are also committed to introducing better protections from eviction and the right for everyone living in Scotland to make their house a home, such as being able to redecorate or keep their pets.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are grateful to all respondents to our consultation, including Living Rent. We recognize the role that rent rises are playing in the cost of living crisis, and we are committed to an effective national system of rent controls. People have until midnight tonight [Friday] to respond to the consultation – we will publish an analysis of responses and take them into account as we formalize our plans.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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