Analysis of second PRS reform consultation published
The Scottish Government has published an analysis of responses to the second consultation on a new tenancy for the private rented sector (PRS).
Launched in March this year, the consultation asked a broad range of questions on security of tenure, protection from eviction and rent levels.
Crucial to the consultation was the Living Rent Campaign which gathered almost 2,500 responses from tenants and supporters across Scotland over the 6 week period.
Out of a total of 7,689 responses, only three other responses came from a tenant or resident group that wasn’t from the campaign.
The report found that 86 per cent of respondents agreed that there should be no initial period during which tenants cannot issue a notice to their landlord to end the tenancy. Campaigners argue that this is crucial to avoiding situations where tenants become trapped in unaffordable or unsafe tenancies due to financial concerns.
A total of 95 per cent of respondents disagreed with the proposed notice periods landlords would be required to give tenants to end a lease. The proposal in the initial consultation was that some tenants would receive only 4 weeks’ notice, but a majority of respondents supported proposals that it should be a minimum of 3 months.
Around 86 per cent of respondents agreed that there should be no ‘accelerated’ process for evicting tenants for rent arrears. For campaigners this is crucial to stopping tenants from being made homeless because of delays in benefits or student support.
Almost every respondent (99 per cent) agreed that rent increases should be limited to no more than once every 12 months, with 72 per cent of respondents agreeing that tenants should be given at least 12 weeks’ notice of any increase.
A similar number of respondents (97 per cent) agreed that tenants should be able to refer unfair rent levels and increases to a tribunal, with a majority of those agreeing that rents should be assessed on a number of criteria such as size and quality, but crucially that market levels should not be a factor in this. If implemented properly, The Living Rent Campaign believes this could be an important tool to allow tenants to challenge their rent levels, and could form the basis of a more comprehensive system of rent controls.
David Statham from the Living Rent Campaign, the new report underlines need for PRS reform
He said: “The responses to this consultation show a clear desire for change in private rented housing. Tenants are demanding better protections and better rights, but it is crucial that we go further and act to reign in unaffordable rents and stop exorbitant increases. Across Europe, rent controls exist to protect tenants and guarantee a private rented housing sector that is fit for purpose.
“Poll after poll shows enormous public support for rent controls, and last week we delivered a petition of 8000 signatures calling for their introduction. This consultation is just the latest evidence that the Scottish Government need to act.”