THE voices of tenants will be at the heart of the Scottish Government’s new plan for the rented housing sector, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie has said.

The newly appointed Tenants’ Rights Minister said he would hear directly from those on low incomes as he shaped the government’s approach to housing.

A “new deal for tenants” was pledged in the SNP-Green cooperation agreement, which saw Harvie’s party enter government for the first time last week.

It includes the creation of a new housing regulator, greater restrictions on winter evictions, and a commitment to implement a system of rent controls by the end of 2025.

The government is due to publish a rented sector strategy by the end of 2021, ahead of a new Housing Bill in 2022.

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Harvie announced a 10-month project involving the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on Friday, where researchers from a number of universities would speak to tenants on low incomes to discuss their priorities.

He said: “I am delighted to be working with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on this important project, hearing directly from tenants on low incomes to inform our forthcoming rented sector strategy.

“Homes are more than bricks and mortar – good housing can improve health, wellbeing, and life chances – but we know many people are still living in rented homes that are insecure, expensive, and do not meet their needs.

“We have already made significant progress in improving standards and tenants’ rights, but we must and will do more.

“This project will help to ensure that tenants’ voices are at the heart of our work building a better, safer, fairer private rented sector.”

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Chris Birt, deputy director for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in Scotland, said: “It is vital that any further reform of our private rented sector delivers significant improvements for tenants – particularly those on lower incomes, facing unaffordable or poor-quality housing who often have little real choice.

“In this project, we will support tenants to explore what could make the biggest difference to them and ensure it is those priorities which drive any future reform.

“We are delighted to be joined by a wide range of partners including private landlords, homelessness organisations and those representing tenants, who as part of an expert advisory group will use their expertise to help co-design potential solutions alongside tenants, following the initial research phase this year.”