The controversial ban on private rental sector rent rises and evictions is to continue in Scotland for another six months at least, taking it up to October 2023.
Social rental sector tenants will no longer have their rents frozen, with some reported to be facing an 11.2 per cent increase although the overall average is claimed to be 6.1 per cent.
The private rent freeze and eviction ban came about as a result of so-called emergency legislation – the Cost of Living (Tenant) Protection (Scotland) Act 2022 – passed in the autumn by the Scottish Parliament, where an informal alliance between the Green Party and the Scottish National Party forms a majority.
The law was to last for six months until April 2023 but had a provision that it could be extended for two additional six month periods – the first of these has now been confirmed.
Green Party politician and Scottish Government tenants minister Patrick Harvie says: “Clearly, there are still economic challenges facing private renters and there is not the opportunity to agree a collective voluntary approach in the private rented sector … I would anticipate that it will remain necessary and proportionate to extend the rent cap provisions beyond March 31 in the private rented sector.”
Labour Members of the Scottish Parliament back the freeze while Conservatives oppose it.
Ahead of the decision, agents’ trade body Propertymark sent a briefing to MSPs outlining evidence received from member agents. This confirmed that Propertymark – along with other groups – was working on the case for a possible Judicial Review of the freeze.
Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns, says: “Once again, the Scottish Government has failed to acknowledge what is happening in the private rented sector and the damage that legislation capping rents is causing. Unlike for providers of social rented accommodation there has been no task and finish group for the private rented sector to formally raise our concerns.
“Alarmingly, the minister also failed to acknowledge the impact of planned future legislation for the private rented sector that also includes energy efficiency targets that many landlords will struggle to afford.
“We have recently written to the Deputy First Minister expressing our dismay at the budget decision to raise taxes when purchasing buy to let property as there is clearly a lack of basic understanding on the economics of supply and demand. It seems non-sensical that on the one hand the Scottish Government is increasing costs for investing in the private rented sector and on the other hand accusing landlords of increasing rents.”