Plans for new law to tackle rising rent prices and overcrowding in Scotland

2 April 2018, 06:17

Houses

Calls are being made for new legislation to tackle rising private rent prices, as figures show the number of overcrowded properties more than doubled in four years.

Scottish Labour is putting forward plans for a "Mary Barbour law", named after the 1915 Glasgow rent strikes leader, as part of an effort to ensure proper standards and keep prices down.

Latest figures available show there were 23,000 overcrowded properties in Scotland in 2016, compared with 10,000 in 2012 - an increase of 130%.

Scottish Labour's housing spokeswoman Pauline McNeill said: "More and more of Scotland's private renters are finding themselves squeezed into unsuitable accommodation.

"We cannot continue to ignore conditions in the fastest-growing part of the housing sector.

"The private rented sector has grown dramatically in the last 15 years but our laws haven't kept pace to support tenants.

"Renting should be a secure and viable long-term housing option, the means to live in a location that you choose and a way to save up for a deposit if you want to buy a home.

"However, for too many people it is none of these things."

A property is considered overcrowded if there are insufficient bedrooms to meet the occupants' requirements.

The Mary Barbour law plan proposes to limit rent rises with a link to wages and ensure they are "affordable".

It would also aim to make sure all private rented properties meet "proper standards" for health, safety and energy efficiency.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: "We recognise the private rental sector has grown substantially in recent years and are taking action to increase affordable housing supply, including that for rent.

"Our recent rental Income Guarantee Scheme will boost the emerging build-to-rent sector; we've ended right to buy in Scotland, and reintroduced council house building.

"Along with action that has seen thousands of empty homes brought back into use, that is all helping to meet our ambitious commitment to deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes, with at least 35,000 of these for social rent.

"We have also introduced significant improvements through our new Private Residential Tenancy, which will provide much greater rent stability and predictability for tenants and ensure tenants are able to act if they face unreasonable increases."