Many of Scotland’s most economically vulnerable people do not own their homes and cannot get public rental housing, making them reliant on the private rental sector. But that is very often not a great experience because of the low quality of many rental properties, the insecurity of the lease and the high level of rents. This was all explored in a report we published jointly with Living Rent.
It was the first of three major reports we published jointly. The next was a concrete proposal for how this situation could be fixed. Among the things it called for were a points-based system linked to the value of the property, a cap on rents to ensure affordability, a hardship defence in case of eviction and a Commission to oversee all of this. It led the Scottish Government to introduce Rent Pressure Zones – but these are designed in such a way that makes them almost impossible to use. So a third report explained exactly why they don’t work, how a proper rent control system would be designed and how Scotland should move forward from here – if it cares about those who rent their homes.
Since this publication Scottish Labour MSP Pauline McNeil has been pushing through the Mary Barber Bill with support from Common Weal and Living Rent. Everyone recognises it isn’t far enough – but is at least one more step on the way to fair rents in Scotland.