Emergency rent freeze and eviction ban becomes law in Scotland

A cap of 0% has been set for six months with a ban on evictions over the same period.

Emergency rent freeze and eviction ban becomes law in Scotland iStock

Emergency legislation to freeze rents and ban evictions temporarily has become law in Scotland.

It is understood to be the first Holyrood legislation to be given royal assent by the King.

The Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) Act allows the Scottish Government to temporarily freeze rent increases for private and social tenants, and for student accommodation after being expedited through parliament.

It applies to in-tenancy rent increases, with the cap set at 0% for six months from September 6 until at least March 31, 2023.

It also prevents evictions over the same period, except in a number of specified circumstances.

Ministers can extend the temporary law for a further two six-month periods if they deem it necessary but protections for landlords who are experiencing extreme cost increases have been put in place.

Rents can be increased if the landlord can prove their property costs have soared – but only if the increase is less than 50% of the jump in costs.

Damages for unlawful eviction have also been increased to a maximum of 36 months’ worth of rent.

Speaking to STV News previously, renter and member of Living Rent, Stella Rooney, said the Bill’s approval was “a big relief”.

“I like my home. I’m really comfortable here. And I think that’s a big relief and a weight off my shoulders,” she said.

“The fact that there are exemptions for how this will apply is an issue because we are really advocating for comprehensive rent controls, which would kind of solve this problem in the long run.”

Tenants’ rights minister Patrick Harvie said: “Many people who rent their homes are facing real difficulties as a result of the cost-of-living crisis.

“While bills are rising for all of us, many tenants are more exposed as they are more likely to be on low incomes or living in poverty than other people.

“These measures aim to give tenants greater confidence about their housing costs and the security of a stable home.

“Some landlords may be feeling the effects of this crisis too. So while the primary purpose is to protect tenants, the emergency measures also include safeguards for those landlords who may be impacted.

“For anyone struggling with their rent, I would urge you to contact your landlord, an advice organisation or a tenants’ union to get help as early as possible.”

MSPs approved the Bill on temporary rent freezes in the Scottish Parliament on October 6, where it was then progressed for royal assent.

Landlords and lettings bodies in Scotland said they were seeking legal advice on the newly introduced rent freeze and eviction ban legislation.

It has been criticised by the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) which has argued they do not believe the changes are proportionate.

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