Emergency legislation laid before the Scottish Parliament this week,seeks to increase protection for tenants from rent rises and eviction action during the cost of living crisis.
If approved, the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Bill will give Ministers temporary power to cap rents for private and social tenancies, with this cap set at 0% – effectively freezing rents – from 6 September 2022 until at least 31 March 2023. The Bill includes the further power to maintain or vary the rent cap over two further six-month periods.
Enforcement of eviction actions resulting from the cost crisis will be prevented over the same period except in a number of specified circumstances. Damages for unlawful evictions will be increased to a maximum of 36 months’ worth of rent.
These measures will also apply to students in college or university halls of residence or other types of purpose-built accommodation.
The legislation includes safeguards for private sector landlords, allowing them to apply to increase rent to partially cover a limited number of specific costs including increased mortgage interest payments on the property they are letting, an increase in landlords’ insurance or increases in service charges paid as part of a tenancy, subject to an overall limit.
Safeguards for both social and private sector landlords, as well as providers of college and university halls and other purpose-built student accommodation, are included in the Bill’s provisions on evictions.
Tenants’ Rights Minister Patrick Harvie said:
“The cost-of-living crisis is an emergency situation demanding an emergency response. Even as energy, food bills and other day-to-day basics become more expensive, today’s legislation freezing rents and protecting tenants from eviction will give tenants stability in their homes and confidence about their housing costs.
“People who rent their homes are more likely to live in poverty or be on low incomes than homeowners. As such they are particularly exposed to rising prices, and it is imperative that we bring in support for them urgently.
“We know that many landlords have been doing what they can to protect their tenants, but some tenants are being hit with large rent increases that are hard to justify. This legislation aims to protect all tenants from substantial increases, balancing the protections that are urgently needed for tenants with safeguards for those landlords who may also be impacted by the cost crisis.”
The Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Bill will be scrutinised and debated by MSPs this week.
The legislation is a Programme for Government commitment.
Further information about the Bill is available on the Scottish Government website.