Question reference: S6W-14102
- Asked by: Paul McLennan, MSP for East Lothian, Scottish National Party
- Date lodged: 18 January 2023
Current status: Initiated by the Scottish Government. Answered by Patrick Harvie on 19 January 2023
To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the expected status of the provisions within Part 1 of the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Act 2022 for the period after 31 March 2023, in light of the Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights' statement to the Parliament on 12 January 2023.
The Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Act 2022 is a key part of the Scottish Government’s help for tenants facing the impact of the cost crisis. The Act introduced a temporary rent cap and moratorium on the enforcement of evictions, along with increased damages for unlawful evictions – until at least 31 March 2023.
The Scottish Government has made clear it will retain and use the provisions in the Act only where they remain necessary and proportionate in connection with the cost of living crisis. This is demonstrated in the regulations laid before Parliament today, which:
- expire the rent cap provisions for the social sector on 26 February, so that it allows landlords to implement changes from the end of March; and
- also suspend the rent cap provisions for purpose-built student accommodation, recognising that new tenancies in the academic year
2023-24 would not be covered by the Act as it stands in any case.
In light of the differences in how the social and private rented sectors operate and the clear economic evidence demonstrating the continued pressure being placed on private rented households due to the ongoing cost crisis, the Scottish Government will bring forward regulations to extend the remaining provisions in Part 1 of the Act for a further 6 months to 30 September 2023, provided it remains necessary and proportionate. Subject to the approval of Parliament, this will mean that the rent cap for the private rented sector will continue, along with the moratorium on enforcing evictions - which will continue to apply across all sectors.
In order to ensure the provisions are proportionate, the Act gives powers to vary the level of the rent cap. And whilst the focus of the emergency measures continues to be on protecting tenants, the Scottish Government recognises that the ongoing impacts of the cost crisis may also be experienced by some landlords.
The Scottish Government is of the view that it would be proportionate to raise the rent cap in the private rented sector to allow within-tenancy rent increases of up to 3%. Landlords will continue to be able to apply for an additional rent increase based on prescribed property costs and the maximum increase on this basis will be raised to 6% of overall rent in these specific and limited circumstances, in effect preserving the existing landlord safeguard which allows rent rises of 3% above the rent cap if prescribed property costs can be evidenced.
Finally, the 2022 Programme for Government set out the intention to bring forward a new Housing Bill in 2023 and that exact timings would be kept under review, in light of our emergency work to support tenants through the costs crisis.
Having reviewed that work and recognising the extension of our emergency legislation, the Scottish Government can confirm that it intends to introduce that Housing Bill – which will include long-term rent control measures – as soon as possible after the 2023 summer recess.