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by Kirsteen Paterson
13 October 2022
Landlords consider legal action over Scottish Government rent freeze

Scottish Green Party minister Patrick Harvie speaks in parliament on the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) Bill

Landlords consider legal action over Scottish Government rent freeze

A coalition of landlords is taking legal advice on whether the Scottish Government's rent freeze and eviction ban breaches their human rights.

The move is described as a "last resort" after emergency legislation was approved by the Scottish Parliament earlier this month. 

Aimed at protecting tenants' rights, it prevents the raising of rents until March 2023, with a moratorium on evictions also in place.

However, there are exceptions on rent increases where a landlord faces higher property costs, mortgage interest charges and some insurance costs. 

Patrick Harvie, tenant's rights minister, said the measure is an "emergency response" to the cost-of-living crisis and will "give tenants in their homes and confidence about their housing costs".

However, tenants' union Living Rent said a "full, comprehensive rent freeze" is needed.

Now rental bodies have teamed up to seek legal advice on the legislation. The Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL), Propertymark, the National Residential Landlords Association and Scottish Land and Estates has instructed Lord Davidson KC on whether or not it breaches the individual rights of landlords, including those enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.

It is claimed that the decisions taken will significantly impact the use and ownership of property.

John Blackwood, SAL chief executive, said the legislation is "ill-defined" and the Scottish Government "may have forgotten the underlying stresses" in the private rental sector, stating: "Seeking a legal opinion has been our last resort because our concerns are not being listened to by the Scottish Government."

Davidson's legal opinion is expected within the next month.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "The Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) Bill addresses the cost-of-living crisis by increasing protection for tenants, including student tenants, from eviction and rent rises. The measures will apply initially until March next year. We will keep their impact on the wider property market under review during that time.

"The legislation has been carefully designed to balance the protections that are urgently needed for tenants with important safeguards for those landlords who may also be impacted by the cost crisis and face financial hardship."

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