This legislation has been rushed and not properly consulted on. Stakeholders barely had any time to review the Bill and MSPs had less than three days to scrutinise the Bill from start to finish.
Scotland is already experiencing a housing shortfall and the SNP-Green Government, and Labour, must realise that the rent freeze risks leading to the removal of vital housing stock from the market and, making the housing crisis even worse and with it, higher rents and homelessness in the long-run.
Therefore, this legislation will not help address the cost-of-living crisis. In fact, it may make things worse by increasing evictions due to financial hardship faced on behalf of landlords, forcing tenants to look at potentially more expensive accommodation elsewhere. It is also unfair that that this protection is being made available to renters while there is no similar support for homeowners with mortgages.
Rent freezes in other European countries and cities have caused more harm than good when imposed. In Ireland where rent controls have been imposed, the number of available properties for rent in August 2022 plummeted to 716. In Stockholm, renters have had to wait multiple years on waiting lists to rent properties. In Berlin, rent controls have created a ‘grey economy’ whereby landlords have demanded that tenants pay ridiculous prices for furniture, kitchen appliances, and other basic amenities as a condition of renting. The housing crisis has been apparent for years and is a direct result of the SNP’s failure to meet their own housebuilding targets and decision to close down schemes, such as the Help to Buy Scheme and the First Home Fund for first time buyers. The Scottish Conservatives believe that the best way to address this crisis is through increased home building across all sectors and have set out plans to build 25,000 new homes across Scotland each year and by introducing a Rent to Own scheme.