SEVEN in 10 people in Scotland back new curbs on private landlords – with support higher amongst independence voters, research has found.

More than one in seven of the country’s homes are let out by the private rental sector, which has expanded by almost 400,000 properties since 2006.

Figures released in November by the Scottish Government show average monthly charges rose by more than 20% from 2010-18, surpassing the rate of inflation.

According to new polling, almost 70% of adults now want Holyrood to introduce European-style limits on rent charges.

Amongst SNP voters, that level is 80%, higher than any of the other main Westminster parties.

Fewer than half of Tory voters agreed the Scottish Government should introduce limits on how much private landlords can charge in rent. And support for new controls was higher amongst people who backed Yes in 2014 than those who voted No, with that result replicated for Remainers and Leavers.

The findings are based on Survation polling carried out for campaign body 38 Degrees and tenants’ union Living Rent. Almost half of the 1020 people questioned said they would be more likely to back a Scottish parliamentary candidate who supported the change, with only 10% reporting they would be less likely to.

Gordon Maloney, of Living Rent, commented: “Rent controls are enormously popular, and it is no surprise – far too many tenants across the country are being forced into poverty by sky-high rents.”

In a report in conjunction with Common Weal last month, Living Rent argued that new rent pressure zone powers introduced by the Scottish Government have failed to protect tenants, and that the government must now move to “proper, nationwide rent controls”. Since launching the report, almost 17,000 people have signed a petition backing that demand on the 38 Degrees website.

According to Scottish Government statistics, the national average rental price for a two-bedroom property – the most common in the sector – is £652. However, this rises to £946 in the Lothian area, which has seen a jump of more than 40% since 2010.

Labour says it would introduce a "Mary Barbour Law" named after the 1915 Rent Strikes leader to protect tenants' pockets.

Defending the Scottish Government’s record, Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “The new private residential tenancy, introduced in December 2017, provides a range of measures to help tackle high rents, including limiting rent increases to once in 12 months, with three months’ notice required, enabling tenants to challenge unfair rent increases and providing local authorities with new discretionary powers to designate an area as being a rent pressure zone.

“This year, new regulations will make changes to the repairing standard that will improve the condition of private rented properties.”

John Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL), told The National: “What we need is an increase in all types of housing. These need to be built in the right areas to meet current and future demand. Whilst rent controls sound like an easy option, we must understand that rising rents are a symptom of the problem and not the problem in itself. SAL fully supports any moves which seek to address that root cause of Scotland’s housing crisis."