End Scotland's housing emergency

Propertymark has urged Scotland’s new First Minister, John Swinney following his appointment on 7 May as leader of the Scottish National Party, to end the housing crisis across the country.

Scottish Flag.jpg

As five Councils have declared a housing emergency, Mr Swinney intends to prioritise housing, having blamed Westminster for cuts to Scotland’s housing budget days before he was appointed First Minister. 

Rent controls 

Humza Yousaf resigned as the Scottish First Minister after the collapse of the 2021 Bute House Agreement between the Scottish National Party and the Scottish Greens to govern the country. Under the Agreement, the Greens’ co-leader, Patrick Harvie, was Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights and led much of the Scottish Government’s agenda for rent control.    

From 1 April 2023, the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Act 2022 meant that rent caps for private tenancies could only increase by 3 per cent up to 30 September 2023, with the choice to extend for an additional six-month period if necessary. Holyrood then voted for a final six-month period to extend the Cost of Living regulations until 31 March 2024.  

So far, Mr Harvie has refused to commit to a new coalition arrangement and has instead said he will work with the Scottish National Party on many issues, which means the future of a Housing Bill the Scottish Parliament introduced in March this year to allow local councils to enact rent controls if necessary, is in turmoil.  

Propertymark completed surveys with member agents based in Scotland between October 2022 and May 2023 about the impact of the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Act, which pointed to the devastating effect the law has had on the private rental sector. 100 per cent of agents say that they have witnessed more landlords looking to leave the private rented sector, while 97 per cent of agents have seen an increase in the number of landlords serving notice to sell because of the Act. And in a disastrous blow for many tenants, the Act resulted in 100 per cent of agents finding that landlords are now more willing to increase rents between tenancies due to the legislation.  

 In October 2023, Propertymark’s members stated, responding to a landlord and tenant engagement questionnaire on rented sector reform, that rent controls would reduce spending on remediation and improvements.   

In November 2023, Propertymark challenged the Scottish Government’s rent controls through legal action via the Scottish courts.  

Edinburgh looking up.jpeg
02 Nov 2023
Decision published in Cost of Living legal challenge

Today, 2 November 2023, the Opinion of the Hon Lord Harrower was released on Propertymark’s joint Judicial Review Petition, alongside the Scottish Association of Landlords and Scottish Land & Estates, that challenged the Scottish Government’s rent control and eviction ban under the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Act 2022.

Incentivises for the PRS

Propertymark would like to see the Scottish Government review all costs and taxes impacting private landlords and significantly reduce the six per cent Additional Dwelling Supplement on purchases of buy-to-let property to increase the supply of homes to rent and incentivise landlords. Additionally, ensure that more social housing is built to reduce the housing need and in the long-term solution to address the lack of affordability in the private rented sector. 

Propertymark congratulates John Swinney on his appointment as the new leader of the SNP and First Minister of Scotland. Tackling the housing emergency in Scotland must be front and centre of his leadership.

Having previously held senior positions within the Scottish Government, Propertymark member agents will look to Mr Swinney to confront the challenges the housing market faces head-on and work with the sector to ensure housing plays a positive role in building the economy, improving health and supporting job creation.

Timothy Douglas Serious.jpg
Timothy Douglas Head of Policy and Campaigns | Propertymark