Emergency bill to freeze rents and ban evictions introduced

If approved, it will give ministers temporary power to cap rents for tenancies till March 31.

Emergency bill to freeze rents and ban evictions introduced by MSPs iStock

An emergency bill aimed at freezing most rents until the end of March next year has been introduced at the Scottish Parliament.

The Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Bill will seek to increase protection for tenants from rest rises and evictions during the cost of living crisis.

If approved, it will give ministers temporary power to cap rents for private and social tenancies, with this cap set at 0% – effectively freezing rents – from September 6 until at least March 31.

The bill includes the further power to maintain or vary the rent cap over two further six-month periods.

Evictions resulting from the cost of living crisis will not be allowed over the same period, except where a landlord faces increased property costs, mortgage interest payments and some insurance costs.

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Compensation for unlawful evictions will be increased to a maximum of 36 months’ worth of rent.

The bill, published on Monday by the Scottish Government, will be led through parliament by Scottish Greens co-leader and tenants rights minister, Patrick Harvie.

“People who rent their homes are more likely to live in poverty or be on low incomes than homeowners,” said Harvie.

“As such they are particularly exposed to rising prices, and it is imperative that we bring in support for them urgently.”

These measures will also apply to students in college or university halls or other types of purpose-built accommodation.

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Safeguards for both social and private sector landlords, as well as providers of college and university halls and other purpose-built student accommodation, are included in the bill’s provisions on evictions.

Harvie continued: “We know that many landlords have been doing what they can to protect their tenants, but some tenants are being hit with large rent increases that are hard to justify.

“This legislation aims to protect all tenants from substantial increases, balancing the protections that are urgently needed for tenants with safeguards for those landlords who may also be impacted by the cost crisis.”

Scottish Greens housing spokesperson Ariane Burgess MSP said: “We are living through the worst cost crisis for generations, with inflation soaring and bills skyrocketing. 

“One of the biggest expenses people have is housing, which is why this emergency legislation is so important. It provides immediate support to tenants at the sharp end of the crisis this winter.”