The Key Ideas

#48 Put in place a system of rent control in the private rental market and increase security of tenure through indefinite contracts

The low supply of high-quality rental in Scotland also means that rental costs are often either too high, too insecure, or the properties of insufficient qualityor all three. To address this a proper system of rent control should be put in place. A simple proposal for rent controls is to base the levels of rent on the council tax bands, but since the last assessment of property value for council tax bands in Scotland was over twenty years ago, a new system is required.

Fairer systems already exist elsewhere: in the Netherlands, an independent panel rates properties in a points system based on size, location, condition, and local amenities, and sets rates accordingly. A rent commission allows renters to challenge the level of rent set. Any increase in rent is announced annually by the government, in the same way that an increase (or decrease) in public-sector pay is announced.

 

We then must improve security of tenure. The normality of a six-month lease in the UK, where a landlord can then kick you out without providing any other reason for doing so than that they want to, is abnormal in most of Europe. Instead, a tenant's tenure should not have any contract time limit, in the same way as someone who gets a mortgage doesn't, with the flexibility to leave at any point providing they've paid the month's rent and kept to all the conditions of their contract. Tenants would be informed before any changes to their rent at the annual rate setting so they can decide whether they want to stay on or not. If the landlord decides they do not want them for whatever reason and this is contested by a tenant, the rent commission would decide whether the landlord has viable grounds for making them leave their home. Not only does this create greater security for the tenant, but the landlord also knows what rent their going to receive over a longer time period and can plan ahead.