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by Louise Wilson
20 January 2023
Landlords challenge Scottish rent control legislation

Landlords challenge Scottish rent control legislation

A coalition of landlords and letting agencies are seeking a legal challenge to the Scottish Government’s rent control and eviction ban legislation.

The Scottish Association of Landlords, Scottish Land and Estates, and Propertymark have together submitted a petition to the Court of Session asking for a judicial review.

They say the law is disproportionate and unfair for those who rent out properties in the private sector.

The Scottish Government will be asked to respond to the petition before it is considered by judges.

Ministers froze rents and placed a moratorium on evictions in September in a bid to help tenants with the rising cost of living.

The legislation was initially meant to last until the end of March, but tenants’ rights minister Patrick Harvie confirmed this week he was extending it for a further six months – though between April and September, landlords may increase rents by a maximum of three per cent.

Harvie said: “With many households still struggling with bills, it is clear that these protections are still needed to give tenants greater confidence about their housing costs and the security of a stable home.”

However, the freeze does not cover the social sector. The government will instead replace the freeze with an agreement to keep rent increases for 2023-24 below inflation for social tenants.

The petitioners argue this puts private landlords at a significant disadvantage and express concern that it does not make any distinction between individual landlords and companies, the former of whom may also be struggling with rising costs.

John Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords, said: “While the Scottish Government sees fit to raise council and housing association tenants’ rents, so social landlords can do repairs and improvements, they fail to realise that private landlords are faced with similar financial pressures…. Landlords have had enough. We must stand united to protect our property rights by challenging this unfair legislation in court.”

The Court of Session in Edinburgh will be asked to rule on whether the law is discriminatory and in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We recognise the role of the private rented sector in providing homes for let, and acknowledge that some costs have been rising for landlords as well as tenants.

"The emergency legislation passed by parliament requires us to keep measures under regular review. So, subject to the approval of parliament, we intend to allow landlords in the private sector to increase rents by up to three per cent or alternatively to apply to Rent Service Scotland for an increase of up to six per cent to help cover defined cost increases associated with their let property. 

“We are not aware of a legal action being served on the Scottish Ministers challenging the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Act 2022.”

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