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Temporary rent controls proposed as cap ends

Emergency legislation passed in 2022 aimed to limit the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on renters (Alamy/PA)
Emergency legislation passed in 2022 aimed to limit the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on renters (Alamy/PA)

The Scottish Government has proposed temporary rent controls as a cap and eviction moratorium is due to end.

Emergency legislation passed in 2022 to limit the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on renters will expire in April after a number of extensions.

Initially freezing rents, the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) Act 2022 eventually allowed landlords to increase rents by 3% – or 6% in some situations – and placed a ban on evictions being carried out in most circumstances.

In response to the Act ending on April 1, tenants rights’ minister Patrick Harvie has announced plans to temporarily change the rent adjudication process until April 1, 2025.

The changes allow rent increases of 6% or less, provided the total rent is not more than market value.

The proposals are designed to allow landlords to return their rent prices to the open market value, while also allowing tenants to apply to Rent Service Scotland or to the first tier tribunal if they feel the increase is unwarranted.

Patrick Harvie
Tenants rights’ minister Patrick Harvie said the Scottish Government is ‘committed to bringing in a long-term system of rent controls’ (PA)

If the gap between the rent currently being paid by the tenant and its value on the open market is more than 6%, the price will be allowed to increase by 0.33% for every percentage point it is above that level, capped at a total of 12%.

A policy document published alongside the Scottish Government’s draft regulations said: “Any changes made to the adjudication process would be intended to smooth the transition out of the rent cap and protect tenants from steep rent increases which could be experienced if there is a sudden move to open market rent from rent levels that have been suppressed.”

Mr Harvie said: “Our emergency legislation has led the way in the UK in capping in-tenancy rent increases, protecting tenants across Scotland from the worst impacts of the cost-of-living crisis.

“However, Parliament set a final deadline for these temporary protections to come to an end from April 1, 2024.

“From April 1 we are proposing temporary changes to the way rents are decided when tenants challenge a rent increase to provide a level of protection for private tenants which remains far greater than anywhere else in the UK.

“It will also enable landlords to react to an increase in costs and reinvest in our private rented sector.

“At the same time, we are committed to bringing in a long-term system of rent controls and creating new rights for tenants through our forthcoming Housing Bill.”