Views sought on plans to deliver fairer rented sector.
Plans to deliver a new deal for tenants, with stronger rights, greater protections against eviction and access to greener, higher-quality, more affordable housing, have been launched.
The proposals, which are open to public consultation from today, aim to deliver a fairer rented sector that meets the needs of tenants and welcomes responsible landlords. They include:
- increasing penalties for illegal evictions and stronger enforcement
- restricting evictions during winter
- giving tenants greater flexibility to personalise their homes and keep pets
- developing a national system of rent controls for the private rented sector
- introducing a new Housing Standard to apply to all homes
- establishing a private rented sector regulator to uphold these standards and ensure the system is fair for both landlords and tenants
- setting minimum standards for energy efficiency, making homes cheaper to heat while contributing to Scotland's climate change targets
The measures form part of the Housing to 2040 strategy, published in March this year, and take forward several commitments made in the co-operation agreement with the Scottish Green Party. The results of the consultation will feed into the final version of the strategy to be published next year, with elements of the proposals put to the Scottish Parliament in a Housing Bill in 2023.
Tenants' Rights Minister Patrick Harvie said:
Now is the time to do more for people who rent their homes, whether they are renting privately, from the council or from a housing association. Delivering a new deal for tenants is central to our ambitions for a fairer Scotland, tackling child poverty and meeting climate change targets.
Above all else it will significantly improve the lives of Scotland's tenants, giving them more stability, more choice over where they live and how they decorate their homes, and the confidence that their home will be of a high quality. At the same time it will recognise the interests of good quality, responsible landlords.
We will be working in partnership with landlords, letting agents, tenants and others to deliver this strategy, and we want to gather the broadest range of views. I would encourage anyone with an interest to respond to our consultation.
Alison Watson, Director of Shelter Scotland, said:
A warm, safe, and permanent home is a right not a privilege for everyone in Scotland. To make this a reality we need to ensure there is enough social housing for everyone who needs it, while strengthening the rights of tenants and empowering people to defend them. Shelter Scotland has long called for tenants' rights and protections, in both the social and private sectors, to be strengthened to make sure no one can be denied their right to a home. Too many renters aren't aware of their rights or don't feel confident in enforcing them and that needs to change.
This is an ambitious strategy, and it offers the chance to mend many aspects of a housing system that is currently failing thousands. We are excited to work with the Scottish Government to develop these ideas and build a better future for housing in Scotland.
Sally Thomas, Chief Executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), said:
We welcome the Scottish Government's ambition that all tenants should have access to secure, good quality, affordable homes. We are also pleased the government has acknowledged the unique role housing associations have in delivering these outcomes to people right across Scotland.
Fairness, quality and affordability are at the heart of the social housing sector, with our homes built to the highest standards, and tenants regularly engaged in important decisions.
This consultation provides an opportunity to inform and shape the detail behind these important principles, not least to provide a clearer definition of affordability. SFHA and our members look forward to working with Scottish Government over the coming months to do this.
The consultation closes on 15 April 2022.
The rent control proposals published today set out reforms to the existing rent adjudication process, and the Scottish Government will now gather evidence to inform a future consultation specifically on rent controls.