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MSPs seek views on Fair Rents Bill

MSPs seek views on Fair Rents Bill

Holyrood’s local government and communities committee has opened its consultation on the Fair Rents (Scotland) Bill.

The bill would limit how much private landlords could increase rent in a year and would allow tenants to apply for “fair open market rent” for a property.

The committee says the bill aims to “change the balance of power” in favour of tenants.

The bill would prevent a landlord of a private residential tenancy from increasing rent in any year by more than the Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus one per cent.

It would also allow tenants to apply at any time to a rent officer for a “fair open market rent” to be set for a property, based on factors including the property’s energy efficiency and overall condition.

Private landlords would also be made to enter the monthly rent and other detailed information into the Scottish Landlord Register.

The bill was introduced by Scottish Labour MSP Pauline McNeill in June but progress was delayed because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The committee is now seeking views from the public by 7 December 2020, with view to deciding next steps early next year.

But it warns that because of its workload there may not be enough time to finish work on the bill before the next election.

Committee Convener James Dornan MSP said: “The proportion of households in private rented housing now stands at just under 15 per cent.

“As the private rented sector in Scotland has grown over the last couple of decades there have been various reforms to tighten the regulation of landlords and give tenants more rights.

“But the stated ambition behind this bill is to change the balance of power further. It would cap rent increases to one per cent plus CPI and to allow tenants more scope to challenge rents.

“We are keen to hear views about whether this further change is necessary and whether the provisions in the bill are workable and will have the intended impact.

“We also want to find out what the financial impact of this bill would be upon private tenants, landlords, the wider rented sector and others, and we welcome the opportunity to hear views on this proposed legislation.”

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