United Kingdom

Scottish coalition government vows rental reforms

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Scotland has a new coalition government with big plans for the private rented sector, including nationwide rent controls.

The Scottish National Party and Green Party have agreed to form a coalition government with a majority in Holyrood and the power to drive through radical rental reforms.

At the top of the list is nationwide rent control. No specifics have yet been announced, but Green leaders have suggested tying maximum rents to average local incomes or to the market value of properties.  

Other housing policies in the agreement include stricter limits on evictions during winter, bigger penalties for rule-breaking landlords, and new rights for tenants – including the right to keep pets and redecorate rented homes.

The coalition plans to publish its Rented Sector Strategy by the end of this year and will introduce a new Housing Bill covering some of the agreed reforms in 2022. Rent controls are a longer-term ambition, but they aim to put them in place by the end of 2025. 

Property industry professionals reacted with dismay. Propertymark issued a statement in support of cracking down on rogue landlords and agents, but warns that rent controls might drive good private landlords out of the market. Rent control policies are also unpopular with economists, who say they often reduce supply while failing to protect tenants.

Property professionals and policymakers south of the border will be watching the Scottish experiment closely. London mayor Sadiq Khan has already floated the idea of controlling rents in the capital, and previous reforms in England such as the ban on tenant fees followed Scottish examples.

Other policy headlines

Ministers “to ditch overhaul of planning laws” after criticism – The Guardian

Universal Credit rent payments to come “with strings” under Labour –  LandlordZONE

Ofgem investigates social housing solar panel scheme – Inside Housing

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