"Rent controls only solution to tenant hardship after coronavirus."
Living Rent welcomes the Scottish government’s introduction of the £10m hardship loan fund for tenants struggling during these time. However, we fear that with such a fund, there is nothing stopping landlords from simply raising rent once they know that this fund is available to tenants. The only way to properly support tenants during this pandemic is the introduction of rent controls.
We at Living Rent welcome the SNP’s commitment to supporting tenants. While we have yet to hear the details of the proposed Tenant Hardship Fund, we know that the only long-term solution to the housing crisis that is already materialising is to implement rent controls and ban evictions. The Scottish Government’s provision of interest free loans to help tenants pay rent is an important emergency measure but it will only push the burden of financial hardship further down the line. Furthermore, landlords can abuse this policy by raising rents in the knowledge that their tenants can apply to this fund to meet higher monthly payments. This measure is funnelling public money to landlords while doing little to support tenants or to make substantive changes to an unsustainable rental market.
Many already struggled with high rents before the pandemic, and a loan based solution is not a feasible long term strategy for them. The burden of proving that their financial difficulty is the result of the pandemic, as well as the requirement that tenants first look elsewhere for housing cost support makes this measure exclusionary and does little to address the longstanding and widespread nature of Scotland’s housing crisis.
This measure has already taken too long to implement. Arrears have increased drastically since the pandemic started and a failure to abolish rent arrears will only lead to evictions further down the road. Whatismore, the eviction prevention legislation has failed to protect numerous tenants from slipping through the cracks and facing eviction due to rent arrears that have accrued over the past six months. The Scottish Government needs to act immediately to protect tenants through rent controls and a full eviction ban.