12,000 sign petition demanding rent controls in Scotland

More than 12,000 people have signed an online petition demanding the Scottish Government introduce “proper rent controls” to protect tenants living in privately-owned properties.

Campaigners say rents for private properities are rising too steeply. Picture: John Devlin

The petition, organised by the Living Rent campaign, calls on housing minister Kevin Stewart to reintroduce restrictions on how much landlords can charge.

“Across the country, sky-high rents are forcing people into poverty and far too many tenants are living in slum-like conditions,” said petition founder Emma Saunders.

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“We used to have rent controls to protect people from exactly this situation - until Thatcher scrapped them in the 1980s - and now it’s time to bring them back.

“In 2016, the Scottish Government brought in so-called ‘Rent Pressure Zones’ to try to tackle high rents, but these have failed. No council has been able to use them, and the evidence suggests it wouldn’t help even if they did. Now we need to bring in proper, nationwide rent controls.”

Latest data from the ONS shows a 0.7 per cent increase in rents to January 2019 across all private tenancies in Scotland, lower than the annual increases seen in England of 1.1 per cent.

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “The new private residential tenancy – introduced in December 2017 - provides a range of measures to help tackle high rents, including limiting rent increases to once in 12 months, with three months’ notice required, enabling tenants to challenge unfair rent increases and providing local authorities with new discretionary powers to designate an area as being a Rent Pressure Zone.

“This year, new regulations will make changes to the repairing standard that will improve the condition of private rented properties.”