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commonweal
25.03.19

Transform Scotland's Housing

Scotland's housing is expensive, small and not particularly well built (by international standards).

Much of our existing housing needs investment and improvement and we don't make enough of our current resources. There is lack of choice and our new-build housing is built without community in mind.

If we build high-quality public rental housing, improve building standards, improve town planning and control the rises in house prices we can transform Scotland's housing for the better.

You can read 5 major reports on transforming Scotland's housing here:

Housekeeping Scotland: Discussion paper outlining new agenda for housing (2016)

Public Land Value Capture: A new model for housing development in Scotland (2018) 

Scottish Building Regulations: Review of energy standards - Common Weal Consultation Response

Alienating, insecure and unaffordable: Living in Scotland's private rented sector (2017)

A Living Rent for Scotland's Private Tenants (2015)

In February 2019, we published a policy paper in collaboration with Living Rent to call for the Scottish Government to introduce rent controls. The report published today shows that the Scottish Governments flagship “Rent Pressure Zones” are unworkable and calls for a new model of “proper rent controls”. Since the power to introduce Rent Pressure Zones came into effect in 2016 no local authority has successfully introduced one.

The Rent Controls Scotland Needs” argues that rent increases and endemic poor-quality housing has created a desperate need for European-style rent controls.

Rent Pressure Zones were introduced three years ago as part of a package of reforms to the private rented housing sector, and were intended to give local authorities the ability to limit rent increases in ‘hotspot’ areas. However, Living Rent claim that the processes councils are required to go through to introduce such regulations are insurmountable, and that it is therefore unlikely that Rent Pressure Zones will ever be successfully brought in.

Housing campaign group Living Rent – who authored the report -  argue that even if Rent Pressure Zones were introduced in hotspot areas, their limited scope means that they would neither control rents in the long term or benefit the tenants who need it most.

The report brings together elements of models of rent controls from across Europe to propose a points-based system which, the authors claim, would ensure affordable housing while also forcing up the quality of Scotland’s housing.

The report claims that tenants cannot wait for action, and urges the Scottish Government to move quickly to ensure affordable and high-quality housing by introducing country-wide rent controls.


Throughout 2019, Common Weal will be producing more papers on improving Scotland's housing drawing from the latest research in technology, finance and design.

Some examples include:

Using the Scottish National Investment Bank to revolutionise the public rented sector.

Meeting Scotland's energy efficiency, carbon emission and climate change targets by upgrading new building regulations.

Developing a methodology for retrofitting existing buildings to as high a standard as is technically feasible.

Changing the way we think about housing and the places we live by showing what a "Common Weal" community could look like.