David Alexander: Housing bill can be lived with

The proposals in the Housing Bill issued this week by the Scottish Government are something the private rental sector can live with. Picture: TSPL
The proposals in the Housing Bill issued this week by the Scottish Government are something the private rental sector can live with. Picture: TSPL
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No rent control is a good thing, writes David Alexander

The proposals in the Housing Bill issued this week by the Scottish Government are something the private rental sector can live with.

While not intrinsically in agreement with many of its contents, I am relieved that the bill does not pave the way for the introduction of rent controls, the consequences of which would be a decrease in the stock of rented housing – exactly the opposite of what the government is trying to achieve.

As for what the Housing Bill does propose, I think the rented sector can live with the increase in rent of an individual property being restricted to once a year and the tenant being given three months’ notice of any increase.

However, I must question the intention to give local authorities the power to regulate rents in special hot spots or “pressure zones” as the government describes them.

There are hot spots, such as Stockbridge in Edinburgh or Hyndland in Glasgow but how does one identify where these districts begin and end and how much public money will be spent on the ­process?

I am disappointed by the Housing Bill’s insistence that landlords will not, in future, have the power to evict a tenant for antisocial behaviour without going to a tribunal. This will mean much greater scrutiny of applicants and could lead to some perfectly decent and law-abiding people not being granted a tenancy because they don’t have the social skills to come over particularly well at interview.

• David Alexander is managing director of the DJ Alexander, one of Scotland’s largest letting agencies, with 4,500 properties under management