We are still waiting on the full details from the SNP Government on their plan to impose a rent freeze until March. However, I believe that it is unacceptable that Nicola Sturgeon announced a freeze without consulting landlords and with no opportunity for parliamentary scrutiny of her plans.
Scotland is already experiencing a housing shortfall and the SNP-Green Government and Labour, must realise that this measure risks leading to the removal of vital housing stock from the market and, with it, higher rents and homelessness.
It is also unfair that that this protection is being made available to renters while there is no similar support for homeowners, who are at the mercy of rising interest rates when it comes to their mortgage repayments.
Rent freezes in other European countries and cities have caused more harm than good when imposed. Just last month, the number of available properties for rent in the Republic of Ireland plummeted to 716, while people in Stockholm have had to wait multiple years in waiting lists to rent properties. In Berlin, rent controls have created a ‘grey economy’ whereby landlords begun demanding 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 which help 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.