The legislation is being fast-tracked through the Scottish Parliament
STV News is reporting from Holyrood that emergency legislation to freeze rents and ban evictions until next year can be introduced in a “balanced” way that reflects the interests of both landlords and tenants, MSPs have heard.
It comes after the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) Scotland Bill was introduced at the Scottish Parliament on Monday.
If approved at Holyrood, the legislation would see landlords temporarily restricted from increasing the amount of rent they can charge on residential tenancies, with the change also applying to student accommodation.
Certain restrictions would also be placed on evictions from residential tenancies, with some exemptions for landlords including where they are experiencing financial hardship.
Under the proposals, most of the changes in the Bill would expire at the end of March 31, 2023.
However, ministers could decide to extend the measures beyond that point to September 30 next year, and then again until March 31, 2024.
The Bill is being fast-tracked through the Scottish Parliament, with the scrutiny process being carried out in a matter of days.
MSPs on Holyrood’s Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee hear evidence on the legislation on Tuesday morning.
Patrick Harvie, Scotland’s tenants’ rights minister was also quizzed on the plans.
A debate on the Bill will take place in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday afternoon.
Giving evidence to the committee, Dumbarton man Harvie insisted that the changes can be “done properly”, while tackling the issue of the housing emergency.
“I’m confident that we are bringing forward a bill now which not only responds to an emergency situation in an appropriate way, but also in a balanced way that reflects the interests and circumstances of both landlords and tenants,” he said.
“This can be done properly, this can be done responsibly to make sure that we raise standards, ensure that there’s protection for tenants and tenants’ rights, at the same time as making sure that our housing systems have adequate supply and good quality.”
John Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords, spoke out against the proposals set out under the Bill.
“We do not believe that this is proportionate because of course landlords are affected as well as tenants through this cost of living crisis that we’re living through at the moment,” he said.
“It’s important that landlords work together in partnership with tenants to be able to overcome some of these issues.
Caroline Crawley, a member of Living Rent, said that the situation is “truly unaffordable” for people.
“We absolutely believe that the legislation needs to go through,” she told MSPs.
“Everyone is in a crisis but tenants especially. Foodbank use has gone up, energy bills are spiralling and rents just keep increasing at insane rates.”
She added: “The current market value is completely unsustainable and in the last few years, between 2010 and 2021, there’s been a private rent increase in Glasgow of 30% and Lothians has gone up by 42%.
“And in the last year since the pandemic, it’s increased by 12% in Dundee, 14% in Edinburgh and 16% in Glasgow.
“It’s just truly unaffordable for people who are working, never mind people who are on benefits.”
Ross Greer, the Scottish Green MSP for West Scotland, right, said: “There are few things as important to us as where we live. But, with soaring inflation and skyrocketing bills, these are desperate times for tenants all across Scotland.
“That is why the rent freeze and the protections we are introducing are so crucial. They will provide stability and support for households and families across West Dunbartonshire and beyond at a time when many are being stretched from all directions.
“These vital changes stand in stark contrast to the incompetence and cruelty that we are seeing from Downing Street, where the government has just approved huge giveaways for bankers, polluters and the super rich at the same time as it is cutting benefits for many of the most vulnerable people.
“No home can be left behind if we are to build a fairer, greener and better recovery. “Over the course of this parliamentary term we will be working with the Scottish Government to introduce the biggest expansion of tenants rights since devolution: including better rights and protections from eviction, the right to decorate and keep pets, and, perhaps most importantly, a robust national system of rent controls.”