Rent Controls

We’re campaigning for strong, nation-wide rent controls to guarantee everyone in Scotland a safe, secure, warm and affordable home.

Sign the petition here: www.livingrent.org/rentcontrols

Read our full proposal here: https://commonweal.scot/policy-library/rent-controls-scotland-needs

 

Why rent controls?

  • Rents in Scotland are out of control - over the last 12 months rents have gone up by by almost 10% in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and the Highlands, with many other areas seeing big increases
  • Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has shown that the number of people living in poverty who live in the private rented sector has tripled over the last decade.
  • High rents trap people in private rented housing, by leaving them with not enough at the end of the month to put towards a deposit. That creates a vicious cycle where people have no other options in terms of housing.
  • The effects of high rents are disproportionately felt amongst already disadvantaged groups. Women, young people, and migrant communities – who typically earn less than the average – are hit twice as hard by high rents.
  • The quality of private rented housing is also unacceptable - in 2016, the Scottish House Conditions Survey found that 60% of privately rented homes was in a state of disrepair - worse than for any other tenure type. If rent controls were linked to the quality of housing, it would provide an immediate incentive for landlords to improve the quality.
  • Rents controls are also really popular - a recent poll shows 75% support across Scotland, and 85% amongst SNP voters

 

What’s our proposal?

The rent controls we are proposing take the best aspects from models across Europe and to learn from the challenges these models have faced, to build a model specific for Scotland’s needs:

  • We want a points-based system that links the maximum rent a landlord can charge to the quality of the flat; this would act as a carrot for them to make improvements, and a stick for landlords who refuse to do so.
  • This would also be attached to the property, not the lease - meaning that tenants moving out wouldn’t have any impact on the rent.
  • We also want rents limited to a specific Rent Affordability Index to ensure that they are affordable for tenants in any given area
  • To oversee this all, we want a new Scottish Living Rent Commission to act as an umbrella body and a centre of expertise and regulation in the private rented sector.

  

Why not rent pressure zones?

In 2016, the Scottish Government introduced “Rent Pressure Zones”, and these were meant to stop unaffordable rents - but they have failed utterly:

  • The burden of proof on local authorities is unreasonable and creates unnecessary barriers in making successful applications. No council has successfully been able to use these powers.
  • RPZs only create rental limits within tenancies and do not prevent rent hikes between tenanciesdoing little to stabilise rents in the long term and creating dangerous side-effects.
  • RPZs only limit increases in rent, so do not address the fact that rents in much of Scotland are already too high.
  • RPZs do nothing to improve the quality of Scotland’s PRS housing stock. As detailed below, we believe this is a significant missed opportunity and that proper rent controls represent a powerful tool to improve the quality of Scotland’s PRS stock.
  • The 2016 Act sought to provide greater tenant security, but without workable controls on rent, landlords can easily force out tenants through rent increases.
  • RPZs can only be applied to small, localised areas, so cannot address the scale and degree of the rent problem in Scotland.