ACTIVISTS from the tenants’ union Living Rent have delivered thousands of postcards calling for rent controls to the Scottish Government’s office in Glasgow’s Atlantic Quay.

The demands were delivered a day prior to the closing of the Scottish Government’s consultation on its ‘New Deal for Tenants’ strategy, which has sought public input on issues surrounding Scotland’s housing crisis.

According to Living Rent, over 5000 people across the country have endorsed the union's response to the consultation, demanding “affordable, quality, securing housing for Scotland”.

Concerns over unaffordable housing have mounted as the cost-of-living crisis has worsened, with rents in Edinburgh, Glasgow and the central belt rising by 10% over the past year, and by 40% in the private rented sector over the past six years. Despite this, research suggests that the quality of rented housing has declined, with over half the homes in Scotland suffering disrepair to critical elements.

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Living Rent’s Caroline Robertson commented: “My housing situation as a social housing tenant has been difficult, challenging and remains unresolved. Direct communication and clear information to myself as a tenant has been shambolic since the first lockdown of the pandemic. During this time, repairs and maintenance have been neglected, yet my social landlord GHA/Wheatley Homes has increased the rents year on year in opposition to tenants’ demands for ‘no increase’. 

“These rent hikes above inflation have been going since long before the pandemic started. Tenants need greater quality of housing and more power over rent levels that starts with having greater democracy in the social rented sector.” 

Living Rent spokesperson Gloria Dawson added: “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 in a dire financial state. 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.

“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 and do so now.”