Scots to be asked their views before overhaul of rules to protect tenants

The Scottish Government aims to increase penalties for illegal evictions, give tenants greater flexibility and create a private sector regulator.

Dan Barker
Monday 20 December 2021 13:19
The new rules aim to protect the rights of tenants (Jane Barlow/PA)
The new rules aim to protect the rights of tenants (Jane Barlow/PA)

People across Scotland are being asked what they think about a raft of measures one Government minister said would “improve the lives of Scotland’s tenants”.

The proposals, which include a Scotland-wide system of rent controls for private rentals and minimum standards for energy efficiency, were put out to public consultation by the Scottish Government on Monday.

Patrick Harvie the Scottish Government’s minister for tenants’ rights, said that “now is the time to do more for people who rent their homes”.

“Delivering a new deal for tenants is central to our ambitions for a fairer Scotland, tackling child poverty and meeting climate change targets,” said the co-leader of the Scottish Greens.

“Above all else it will significantly improve the lives of Scotland’s tenants, giving them more stability, more choice over where they live and how they decorate their homes, and the confidence that their home will be of a high quality.

“At the same time, it will recognise the interests of good quality, responsible landlords.”

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said the new rules were “central to our ambitions for a fairer Scotland” (Jane Barlow/PA)

As part of the consultation, which closes on April 15 2022, the SNP-Green Government has also proposed increasing penalties for illegal evictions and stronger enforcement, restricting evictions during winter, giving tenants greater flexibility to personalise their homes and keep pets, and introducing a new housing standard.

And in the 108-page “New Deal for Tenants”, the Scottish Government has also proposed setting up a private rented sector regulator, which it said would help uphold standards and ensure the system is fair for both landlords and tenants.

The measures form part of its Housing to 2040 strategy, and the Scottish Government said the results of the public consultation will help shape the final version of the document which is published next year, and the elements of the proposals put to the Scottish Parliament in a Housing Bill in 2023.

Alison Watson, the director of Shelter Scotland, said it was an “ambitious strategy” which offered the chance to “mend many aspects of a housing system that is currently failing thousands”.

“Shelter Scotland has long called for tenants’ rights and protections, in both the social and private sectors, to be strengthened to make sure no one can be denied their right to a home,” she said.

“Too many renters aren’t aware of their rights or don’t feel confident in enforcing them and that needs to change.”

John Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Landlords Association, said: “Landlords and letting agents in Scotland have for a number of years been calling for certainty and strategic direction for the Scottish private rented sector. We welcome any move towards that.

“There has been a dramatic reduction in supply of private rented accommodation so we must hope this process will acknowledge the crucial role of landlords in providing safe, quality homes and encourage them to remain in the sector, helping to prevent the shortages which have seen individuals, students and families alike unable to find a suitable home.”

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