Rising rents prompt MSP to call for extension of proposed cost controls
AS RENTS in the Highlands and Islands see tenants pay more than £23 than the national average, MSP John Finnie has called on the Scottish Government to extend proposed rent controls.
The Highlands and Islands MSP said controls were ‘urgent’ as rents are rising faster than in any other part of Scotland.
Mr Finnie was one of the first MSPs to join the Living Rent Campaign to press for rent controls, scrapped by former prime minister and the late Margaret Thatcher’s administration in 1988.
Campaigners were jubilant when Nicola Sturgeon announced last year that she would reintroduce controls, but current Scottish Government proposals would only limit rent rises during existing tenancies.
Mr Finnie warned that this ‘giant loophole’ would leave landlords free to increase rents as much as they wanted for new tenants, and might even encourage landlords to evict existing tenants in order to sidestep rent controls. The MSP said: ‘The cost of renting a home in the Highlands and islands is racing ahead of the rest of the country, driven by buy-to-let and holiday-home speculators for whom houses are first and foremost investments, not homes. The result is greater poverty, greater depopulation, and more desperate tenants forced to accept poor- quality homes or unscrupulous landlords.
‘Nowhere is the case for rent controls more urgent.’
Mr Finnie also called on the government to make rent controls reflect the quality of housing, encouraging landlords to make repairs and improve energy efficiency, and to include a hardship clause in eviction rules so that eviction orders could be delayed for tenants who are dealing with difficult circumstances.