Landlords seek legal advice over new rent freeze and eviction ban

The Scottish Association of Landlords have argued that they do not believe the changes are proportionate.

Landlords seek legal advice over Scotland’s new rent freeze and eviction ban iStock

Landlords and lettings bodies in Scotland are seeking legal advice on newly introduced rent freeze and eviction ban legislation.

It comes after MSPs approved an emergency bill at the Scottish Parliament last week.

The legislation, which was fast-tracked at Holyrood, temporarily restricts landlords from increasing the amount of rent they can charge on residential tenancies.

It also brings with it a moratorium on evictions across the country.

Most of the changes in the legislation are due to expire at the end of March 31 next year.

However, ministers will have the ability to extend the measures if they wish to do so until September 30, 2023, and then again until March 31, 2024.

Tenants’ rights minister Patrick Harvie has insisted that the changes can be introduced “responsibly” and in a “balanced way” reflecting the interests of both landlords and tenants.

However, the legislation has been criticised by the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) who have argued they do not believe the changes are proportionate.

A coalition formed between SAL and a number of other interested bodies – Propertymark, the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) and Scottish Land and Estates (SLE) – are now seeking legal advice over the legislation.

They want to gain an opinion from lawyers over the validity of the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) Scotland Bill.

Lord Neil Davidson of Glen Clova KC, has been instructed to opine if the legislation breaches the individual rights of landlords.

This instruction also applies to looking at whether the legislation could involve a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

A decision is due to be made from Lord Davidson within the next month.

John Blackwood, SAL chief executive, described the legislation as “lacking” in detail.

“Seeking a legal opinion has been out last resort because our concerns are not being listened to by the Scottish Government,” he said.

“This emergency legislation is high-minded in spirit but lacking in the kind of detail landlords need assurance about.

“Uncertainty for landlords only creates ambiguity for tenants and I do not think the Government appreciates the level of confusion it has now created.”

Blackwood suggested that the Government has “forgotten” about underlying problems in the private rented sector.

He said: “We have repeatedly said we are all willing to work with the Scottish Government and ministers.

“This is a tough time but that does not excuse ill-designed legislation that may be the final straw for the private rented sector.

“We are gravely concerned that in a bid to do something to help tenants, the Scottish Government have forgotten the underlying stresses in the PRS that we have been warning about for years.”

Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, claimed that a rent freeze will mean there is less choice for tenants.

He added: “Tenants across the country are already facing a supply crisis in the PRS.

“Far from making things better, a rent freeze will mean less choice for tenants, making it more difficult for them to access the housing they need.

“A viable and thriving PRS is vital to a healthy housing market. Sadly, the actions of the Scottish Government damage this objective and will ultimately hurt tenants the most.”

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