Demand for advice about illegal eviction in the private rented sector has risen by 42% over the past year, Citizens Advice Scotland has said.
The charity says it has seen overall demand for advice on private sector rents go up by 15% over the same period.
The figures come a week after the Scottish Parliament passed a final extension to the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) Act, which was introduced in October last year to protect tenants against the impact of rising costs.
It means the current 3% cap on private sector rent increases and added eviction protections the Bill provides will only last until March next year.
Citizens Advice Scotland is supportive of the measures contained in the Bill but is warning the demand they are seeing for advice suggests many private renters do not know their rights, or that some rogue landlords may be taking advantage of them.
Anonymised details of recent cases dealt with by advice bureaus up and down the country reveal one landlord tried to increase a tenant’s rent by 20% with only one month’s notice despite the 3% cap in place.
Another bureau reported a landlord served a notice to quit on one tenant and, when they questioned it with a letting agent, they wrongly advised the tenant they had to go along with it.
Citizens Advice Scotland’s social justice spokesperson, Aoife Deery, said: “The extension passed by the Scottish Parliament last week is welcome.
“Better protections and a fairer deal for tenants is something we all want to see, but it is crucial we learn from the implementation of this legislation to deliver long-lasting reform.
“We know from our evidence that the cost-of-living crisis is far from over, and we also know that this legislation hasn’t had the intended impact for everyone.
“We’ve seen tenants having their rent increased by far more than the cap, and tenants being evicted illegally.
“This is against a backdrop of average rents rising steeply in many areas of Scotland, making it difficult for people to find alternative, affordable accommodation.
“New rights for tenants are only as strong as their knowledge of them and their ability to exercise them in the first place.
“Otherwise people are at risk of being taken advantage of by rogue landlords.
“Likewise, good landlords who are trying to give their tenants a fair deal may fall foul of legislation simply through not knowing their responsibilities.
“What is critical now is using evidence from this period to develop a fairer rented sector with clear rules.
“Tenants and landlords must be more aware of their rights and responsibilities … and are confident to access redress when things go wrong. We look forward to continuing to work with the Scottish Government towards this.
“Anyone who is worried about their housing can check www.cas.org.uk for access to online advice and contact information for their local CAB.”
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