The Rent Controls Scotland Needs

Common Weal and Living Rent have teamed up to call for the Scottish Government to introduce rent controls. The report published today shows that the Scottish Governments flagship “Rent Pressure Zones” are unworkable and calls for a new model of “proper rent controls”. Since the power to introduce Rent Pressure Zones came into effect in 2016 no local authority has successfully introduce one.

“The Rent Controls Scotland Needs” argues that rent increases and endemic poor-quality housing has created a desperate need for European-style rent controls. You can read the paper in full here.

Rent Pressure Zones were introduced three years ago as part of a package of reforms to the private rented housing sector, and were intended to give local authorities the ability to limit rent increases in ‘hotspot’ areas. However, Living Rent claim that the processes councils are required to go through to introduce such regulations are insurmountable, and that it is therefore unlikely that Rent Pressure Zones will ever be successfully brought in.

Housing campaign group Living Rent – who authored the report -  argue that even if Rent Pressure Zones were introduced in hotspot areas, their limited scope means that they would neither control rents in the long term or benefit the tenants who need it most.

Industry body Citylets recently revealed that average rents in Edinburgh have increased by 7.8% over the last 12 months, and by almost 50% in the last ten years.

The report brings together elements of models of rent controls from across Europe to propose a points-based system which, the authors claim, would ensure affordable housing while also forcing up the quality of Scotland’s housing.

The report claims that tenants cannot wait for action, and urges the Scottish Government to move quickly to ensure affordable and high-quality housing by introducing country-wide rent controls.

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, said:

“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.”