Tenants call for ‘unworkable’ Rent Pressure Zones to be replaced with nationwide rent controls
Scotland’s “unworkable” Rent Pressure Zones should be urgently replaced with a system of “proper rent controls”, according to a new report.
The Rent Controls Scotland Needs is set to be launched in Glasgow tomorrow by Living Rent, Scotland’s tenants’ union, in conjunction with “think-and-do tank” Common Weal, amid reports of average rents escalating across the country.
Under section 35 of the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016, which came into effect at the end of 2017, local authorities can apply to Scottish Ministers to ask that all or part of their authority’s area be designated as an Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ).
However, there are so far no RPZs anywhere in Scotland, which critics have chalked up to the staggering amount of evidence that local authorities need to provide in the application process.
The report argues that evidence from local authorities and housing experts indicates that “no local authority will ever successfully implement a rent pressure zone and that, even if they were able to, that it would go nowhere near far enough in addressing the issues tenants face”.
It goes on to argue in favour of a points-based rent controls system, inspired by other European countries, which would see rent increases pegged to a new Scottish Rental Affordability Index, and a new Scottish Living Rent Commission created to monitor and regulate the housing sector.
The Scottish Rental Affordability Index would aim to keep rents below an “affordable rent”, which Living Rent says should be judged at 25% of a tenant’s income.
Gordon Maloney, a member of Living Rent and one of the authors of the report, said: “High rents and slum-like conditions are causing immense suffering for tenants up and down the country, and the Scottish Government urgently needs to take action.
“Tenants can’t wait. Rent Pressure Zones are not working, but the current situation is simply not sustainable. If we are serious about ensuring affordable, decent housing for everyone in Scotland, then we need proper rent controls now.”
Robin McAlpine, director of Common Weal, added: “The Scottish Government shouldn’t treat the private rental sector as a business opportunity where policy is designed to maximise the profit of landlords. Instead it should make secure, decent-quality private rental housing affordable for the people who need it most. The market is failing to do this and rents are rising but not housing quality. We need effective rent controls to tip the balance back in favour of tenants.”