THE Scottish tenants’ union Living Rent has published its response to the Scottish Government’s ongoing ‘New Deal for Tenants’ consultation, demanding homes which are “genuinely affordable, good quality and secure.”

The ‘New Deal for Tenants’, a draft of which was published in December last year, was the result of the cooperation agreement between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Green Parliamentary Group, and commits to a national system of rent controls and greater security for tenants.

Pressure has mounted on the Scottish Government to aid Scottish tenants as the country’s private sector rented sector continues to attract controversy.

In February, figures from the ONS revealed that private rental prices in Scotland have gone up by 2.6% in one year – the largest annual increase since records began – while an FOI request last month found that fifteen ‘super-landlords’ own roughly 5,300 private rented properties throughout Edinburgh, leading to calls for greater regulation.

The National: Patrick Harvie was involved in the consultationPatrick Harvie was involved in the consultation (Image: Scottish Parliament)

In his ministerial foreward to the draft paper, Tenants’ Rights Minister Patrick Harvie wrote: “This draft strategy consultation sets out an ambitious set of proposals for the phased implementation of a plan, over the next five years, to ensure that the rights and needs of people who rent homes in Scotland are met.

“It is important, therefore, that we gather the broadest range of views, experiences and evidence as we develop the final strategy on a new deal for tenants, which we aim to publish by the end of 2022.”

In their response to the public consultation on the draft, Living Rent demands not only rent controls, but greater penalties for landlords who refuse to make repairs, incentives for improvements including energy efficiency, a ban on winter evictions, and the right for tenants not to face undue restrictions of what they can do in their homes, such as having pets or redecorating.  

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Commenting, Living Rent branch officer for Gorgie Dalry Aditi Jehangir told the National: “Every day, our members bear the brunt of the housing crisis. With rent continuing to skyrocket despite poor quality housing and stagnant wages, it is clear that our housing system is geared towards landlords, leaving many tenants without support and in a dire financial state. 

“As the Edinburgh Poverty Commission pointed out in 2020, housing is fundamental to fixing the poverty crisis across Scotland. All the evidence points to the hardship that tenants are facing in a time when high inflation and fuel costs are already pushing the cost of living beyond the reach of many people. This is why we’re asking for affordable, quality, secure homes built on a system of rent controls, and a society where tenants have a say and control over their homes.

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Jehangir added: “We know the landlord lobby is well funded. We're sure that they will try hard to ensure that their interests are protected and that they will come out in force to say that the rental sector is well regulated and rather, ask for greater protections for landlords. 

“Our response aims to push for tenants’ voices, the people whom this consultation will most affect, to be front and centre in the responses. 

“For tenants' right to housing to be prioritised, the Scottish Government will need to enact clear changes. That’s why we’re encouraging all tenants to endorse our demands, push for rent controls and demand better rights for tenants now.”

The consultation will remain open until 15 April.