Judicial Review hearing evidence

Propertymark’s joint action with the Scottish Association of Landlords and Scottish Land and Estates was heard in the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Scotland’s highest civil court, on Thursday 4 May 2023.

Illegal and legal written on small pieces of paper

A legal challenge was lodged against the Scottish Government after a rent cap and moratorium on evictions was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2022 and subsequently amended and extended earlier in April 2023.

Lord Neil Davidson KCA, representing the partner organisations put a strong case forward, arguing that private landlords have faced increased costs including interest rate hikes and the freeze was not temporary because the loss in income experienced was for many landlords, permanent.

No impact assessment

Propertymark’s evidence which outlined increased costs that many landlords faced was highlighted alongside the fact that the legislation was disproportionate to the scale of the problem and had only brought rent increases into consideration for many landlords who otherwise wouldn’t be looking at the issue. Scottish Land and Estates outlined that there had been no Scottish Government impact assessment on rural properties and the Scottish Association of Landlords presented evidence relating to mortgage costs and the comparison between the impact on the social and private rented sectors.

Discriminatory and unlawful

Throughout the proceedings, case law, proportionately, landlord costs and expenditure as well as comparisons with other consumer costs were also deliberated with Lord Davidson arguing that the Scottish Government’s differing approach between the private and social rented sectors resulted in discriminatory and unlawful treatment. Importantly, Lord Davidson said that despite the Scottish Government saying the Cost of Living Act was emergency legislation no other governments across the UK had introduced such measures. 

Temporary measures

The Scottish Government’s case was responded to by James Mure KC who urged Lord Harrower to reject the submission. He argued that the legislation has no effect on the ability of landlords to raise rents between tenancies, rent increases can take place every 12 months and ultimately the measures are only temporary. Crucially he said it had been voted on by the Scottish Parliament and it was their choice to introduce the legislation. Mr Mure also questioned how representative the survey data presented by the representative bodies was saying there is a limit to what can be taken from it.

A judgement will be made in the next few months with the decision likely to have repercussions for the property sector across the UK.

The fight continues

Thank you to Propertymark members who have donated to the crowdfunding appeal to help meet the legal costs of the judicial review. There is still time to pledge support to the campaign.

Fight to stop rent cap & eviction moratorium in Scotland – pledge your support →