Living Rent, Scotland’s tenants’ union, welcomes new legislation that will improve security for people renting homes in the private rented sector, and hailed first steps for a growing tenants’ movement in Scotland.
Activists highlighted that while the fight for rent controls and better housing was far from over, they had managed to win a significant increase in security and flexibility for tenants, as well as put rent controls firmly on the agenda, with a clear commitment from the SNP, Labour and the Scottish Greens to implement rent controls in the future.
The Private Housing (Tenancies) Bill was passed after a stage 3 debate in the Scottish Parliament.
The Bill will improve the deal for private rented sector tenants by:
- Removing the ‘no-fault ground’ for repossession, meaning tenants cannot be evicted from the properties they rent at will
- Increasing flexibility by making tenancies roll on automatically, meaning there is no pre-set minimum or maximum period that a tenant has to stay in a property for
- Enabling local authorities to apply for the powers to implement ‘rent pressure zones’ in areas where rents are rising particularly rapidly
Living Rent is a campaigning group established to ensure tenants’ voices were heard in the private rented sector reforms introduced by the Scottish Government, with a focus on calling for the introduction for rent controls. The organisation is about to launch its first membership drive, turning it into a nation-wide tenants’ union.
Liz Ely, Living Rent activist, said:
“Today marks an incredible first step towards decent housing for Scotland’s private sector tenants and a huge relief to so many of us who are living in insecure rented housing. It shows that when people come together and get organised, we can change things for the better.
“An increasing number of Scots have to turn to the private rental markets to get a roof over their heads, but until now, the sector has essentially been a free for all with next to no security for tenants and hardly any rules for landlords. This new bill will mean that tenants can no longer be kicked out of their homes for no reason, and will introduce some restraint to rent hikes – but we are still far off from the secure and professional rental markets many other European countries have.
“Since Living Rent first started campaigning, we’ve managed to increase security of tenure significantly, make tenancies more flexible and put rent firmly on the agenda with the SNP voting to support national rent controls just last week . But our work is far from over – homelessness is still rife, Scotland’s tenants still have little chance to secure a long-term home and rents are still rising through the roof.
“In today’s economy where an increasing number of people will never have the reassurance of owning their own home, a strong tenants’ movement is more important than ever, and Living Rent will continue to campaign for rent controls and a better deal for people renting from the private sector.”