The Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 6 October 2022. The new law will mean that:
- landlords in private and social rented sectors (including some student accommodation) will not be able to increase rents for existing tenancies,
- people can only be evicted from tenancies in certain (restricted) circumstances such as criminal activity, anti-social behaviour and abandonment, and
- rent officers or a Tribunal will be involved in decisions about rent increases proposed between tenancies.
There are some protections for private landlords if their costs increase (e.g. mortgage interest or insurance) but any rent increases have to be approved by a rent officer.
These new requirements will be in place until the end of March 2023 although they can be extended beyond this for up to a year. The Scottish Government has to confirm by 14 January 2023 whether the rent cap will continue after the end of March.
Whilst the aim of these changes is to protect tenants in both social and private tenancies from higher rents, possible eviction and ultimately homelessness and also try and avoid issues around mental wellbeing – there are considerable concerns among both sectors about possible unintended consequences which would place increased pressure on both sectors and have a knock-on negative effect on tenants:
- less resource will be available for maintenance and general upkeep in both sectors
- private landlords may leave the sector due to higher costs and additional responsibilities
- the social sector will not have enough resource to build the social housing needed to meet demand which would mean more people in temporary accommodation and on waiting lists for suitable accommodation.
More information can be found here: Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Bill 2022: overview – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)