Ris­ing rents prompt MSP to call for ex­ten­sion of pro­posed cost con­trols

The Oban Times - - News -

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.

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