Housing (Scotland) Bill published

Introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 26 March 2024, the Bill sets out plans to make changes to the law, covering rent controls, tenants’ rights to keep pets and decorate their homes, and a mechanism to delay evictions under certain circumstances.

Scottish Parliament Building

The legislation will implement many of the measures that the Scottish Government included in its New Deal for Tenants, originally drafted in 2021, which forms part of their Housing to 2040 strategy.

Edinburgh landscape
25 Aug 2022
A New Deal for Tenants consultation analysis

Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights, Patrick Harvie, MSP, stated that the Bill will contribute to creating a well-regulated rented sector which balances the needs of tenants and landlords.

Designation of rent control areas

The Scottish Government proposes to require local authorities to carry out an assessment of rents in their area and make a recommendation to MSPs about whether to impose rent controls in all or part of that area.

The controls would be in the form of a restriction on the amount rents could be increased – either via a rent cap based on a fixed percentage or a formula which could be used to calculate the increase.

Duty to consider delaying eviction

This measure would apply to all types of tenancies, in both the private and social rented sectors i.e. those under The Rent (Scotland) Act 1984, The Housing (Scotland) Act 1988, The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 and The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016.

The plans would introduce a specific requirement for the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) and the Scottish Courts, to consider whether an eviction should be delayed due to factors such as seasonal pressures, detriment to health, or financial hardship.

Damages for unlawful eviction

The Bill will make it possible for a court or tribunal to order a landlord or their agent to pay damages of between three and 36 months’ rent to a tenant if they determine that they have been illegally evicted.

Edinburgh Castle above rooftops of old stone townhouses on a cloudy day
06 Nov 2023
Strong message delivered on rental reform proposals

The right to ask to keep a pet

This change would give tenants with a private residential tenancy the right to request to keep a pet and to not be unreasonably refused. Landlords would be entitled to set conditions for approval, such as requiring an additional amount of deposit.

Making changes to a property will be easier

Tenants would be given more freedom to personalise their private rented home, with small changes like putting pictures on walls not requiring permission.

A landlord would not be able to unreasonably withhold permission for bigger changes, like painting the walls inside the property. However, permission for more substantial modifications to fixtures and fittings would remain at the landlord’s discretion.

Glasgow city scape
02 Oct 2023
Agents urged to respond to Scotland rented sector reform consultation before 27 October 2023

Propertymark lobbying

We have campaigned robustly against the introduction of rent controls since the Scottish Government first introduced them as part of emergency measures under the Cost of Living Act, including launching a legal challenge against that legislation.  

Whilst formulating our response to the most recent engagement questionnaire on this issue in November 2023, we hosted two roundtables with members and Scottish Government officials where the strength of feeling from agents was clearly communicated.

We continue to assert that rent control proposals should be dropped in favour of with a focus on other actions to make the private rented sector more affordable, ensuring there is an adequate housing supply that meets increasing demand and tackling existing inequalities of income and wealth.

The Scottish Government’s continued quest for rent control and restrictions on rent increases are laid bare in the Housing (Scotland) Bill.

The measures will do nothing but add extra burden on landlords and local authorities with no additional reward for tenants at a time when resources and finances are under extreme pressure.

Fundamentally, though, the long-term aim for the Scottish Government must be to re-balance supply and demand levels for private rented property. A review of all recent tax changes that impact private landlords is urgently needed and must form part of these reforms. 

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