New report calls for a living rent for Scotland’s private tenants

Common Weal rent planA new report has outlined comprehensive plans to reduce rents in the private rented sector (PRS) as a crucial part of addressing Scotland’s housing crisis.

Published today to coincide with the centenary of the Glasgow Rent Strike, which led to the first rent controls being introduced in the UK, the paper argues that current proposals to cap rent increases would do nothing to address already inflated costs that have a “devastating” impact on many tenants.

A Living Rent for Scotland’s Private Tenants, by think tank Common Weal and the Living Rent Campaign, outlines five key policy recommendations for creating a living rent in the PRS in Scotland.

It suggests:

1) That initial rents be set against a points system to reflect the value of the property, similar to the system in the Netherlands.

2) That rent increases be capped at a rent affordability index to ensure increases do not push tenants into hardship.

3) A move towards indefinite tenancies as default, away from short-term contracts.

4) Ensuring that all tenants are entitled to a hardship defence in relation to evictions.

5) The creation of a Scottish Living Rent Commission, to oversee these recommendations and to serve as a centre of expertise for the Scottish Private Rental Sector.

Authored by Living Rent Campaign activist and former NUS Scotland President Gordon Maloney, the report looks at examples of rent controls in other countries around Europe, and finds no evidence of a relationship between rent controls and reduced access to the rental market, a common objection by private property developers and landlords.

The Private Housing (Tenancies) Bill was announced last week by the Scottish Government and made the first steps towards rent controls in Scotland. The report proposes a more comprehensive system that would link rents more directly to affordability and quality of housing, and campaigners hope to be able to influence and amend the Bill as it passes through the parliament.

The Living Rent Campaign will be promoting the report at a fringe meeting at the SNP conference this week, taking place on Saturday 17 October at 5pm in the Balmoral Suite, AECC.


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