Propertymark court action over rent cap and eviction ban

Working alongside the Scottish Association of Landlords and Scottish Land and Estates, Propertymark has submitted a Petition to the Court of Session in Edinburgh seeking a Judicial Review of the Scottish Government's rent cap and eviction ban legislation.

Edinburgh landscape

The coalition is represented by TC Young LLP and Bannatyne, Kirkwood, France & Co. In the petition, the three groups say they believe the law is disproportionate and unfair.   

This is further exacerbated by the decision to retain the rent cap for the private rented sector and remove it for the social rented sector from 1 March 2023.  

Key petition points

Specifically, the petition highlights:

  • The rent cap applies irrespective of the financial position of both the tenant and landlord.  This means tenants who are not financially vulnerable avoid a rent increase irrespective of the landlord’s financial position.  
  • The recent decision by the Scottish Government to remove the cap for social landlords means a well-off individual renting in the private sector is provided financial protection not available to someone in more challenging financial circumstances in the social sector. 
  • In the decision to remove the rent cap in the social sector, the Scottish Government acknowledges the need for maintenance of these properties but has not given the same consideration to landlords in the private sector. 
  • The law does not make any distinction or provide relief based on different circumstances of landlords, between larger, institutional companies who might be able to shoulder increased costs, and individual landlords who cannot. 
  • The eviction ban creates a delay in addressing matters such as arrears which adversely impacts landlord cash flow culminating in a reduction in capital value. 

European Convention of Human Rights

The petition further argues that by discriminating in the way it does, the law breaches the European Convention of Human Rights which states “The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in the Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as … association with … property” 

The legislation is being made without any clear evidence as to its need. However, the immediate effects are clear to those on the coal face of the problem, as a direct result of the Scottish Government’s initial decision to cap rents at zero, 68 per cent of Scottish letting agents report an increase in notices to sell from landlords.

Private landlords provide homes on a huge scale for people, and they must be able to cover the costs of outgoings on the property. Repairs and maintenance costs are not solely applicable for social landlords and it’s essential for landlords to be able to keep properties to a high standard in the interest of their tenants.

Unlike for providers of social rented accommodation there has been no task and finish group for the private rented sector to formally raise our concerns.

The private rented sector has been clearly singled out with complete disregard for the positive impact it provides. It is vital that we ensure that the residential property sector in Scotland is investible and that is why we have been left with no choice but to formally object to these measures with the Court of Session in Scotland.

Nathan Emerson.jpg
Nathan Emerson CEO | Propertymark

Campaigning for our members

Propertymark has been engaged fully in the development and implementation of the Cost of Living Act, representing members’ views every step of the way.

  • September - following the announcement we pressed Scottish Government officials for actual details of when the legislation will come into force.
  • October - Propertymark’s Head of Policy and Campaign gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament on the legislation.
  • November – Fact Sheet provided to members on the details of the Cost-of-Living Act.
  • December – Propertymark survey members and submit evidence to the Scottish Government as part of the legal requirement for the Scottish Government to report on the Act.
  • January – Propertymark helps secure a relaxation of the current PRS rent cap restrictions which will take effect from 1 April 2023. Further concerns are raised in a meeting with the Minister.

Throughout the legislative process briefings have been sent to MSPs and following the Scottish Government’s Budget in December, Propertymark has written to the Deputy First Minister calling for an urgent review into all taxes affecting private landlords.

Propertymark also continues to push for the Scottish Government to establish a PRS Working Group as has been done for social rented sector providers.

Timothy Douglas provides evidence on impact of Scottish letting legislation.jpg
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