PROPOSALS including restricting evictions during winter and developing a national system of rent controls have been drawn up by ministers to “improve the lives of Scotland’s tenants”.
The plans, which have been put out for public consultation, also include minimum standards for energy efficiency and could give tenants greater flexibility to personalise their homes and keep pets.
Shelter Scotland labelled the blueprint an “ambitious strategy” which offered the chance to “mend many aspects of a housing system that is currently failing thousands”.
Greens Tenants; Rights Minister, Patrick Harvie, said that “now is the time to do more for people who rent their homes”.
He added: “Delivering a new deal for tenants is central to our ambitions for a fairer Scotland, tackling child poverty and meeting climate change targets.
“Above all else it will significantly improve the lives of Scotland’s tenants, giving them more stability, more choice over where they live and how they decorate their homes, and the confidence that their home will be of a high quality.
“At the same time, it will recognise the interests of good quality, responsible landlords.”
As part of the consultation, which closes in April, ministers have also proposed increasing penalties for illegal evictions and stronger enforcement, restricting evictions during winter, giving tenants greater flexibility to personalise their homes and keep pets, and introducing a new housing standard.
The Scottish Government has also proposed setting up a private rented sector regulator, which it said would help uphold standards and ensure the system is fair for both landlords and tenants.
The measures form part of its Housing to 2040 strategy, and the Scottish Government said the results of the public consultation will help shape the final version of the document which is published next year, and the elements of the proposals put to MSPs in a Housing Bill in 2023.
Alison Watson, the director of Shelter Scotland, said it was an “ambitious strategy” which offered the chance to “mend many aspects of a housing system that is currently failing thousands”.
She added: “Shelter Scotland has long called for tenants’ rights and protections, in both the social and private sectors, to be strengthened to make sure no one can be denied their right to a home.
“Too many renters aren’t aware of their rights or don’t feel confident in enforcing them and that needs to change.”
John Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Landlords Association, added: “Landlords and letting agents in Scotland have for a number of years been calling for certainty and strategic direction for the Scottish private rented sector. We welcome any move towards that.
“There has been a dramatic reduction in supply of private rented accommodation so we must hope this process will acknowledge the crucial role of landlords in providing safe, quality homes and encourage them to remain in the sector, helping to prevent the shortages which have seen individuals, students and families alike unable to find a suitable home.”