Housing row

Landlord claims rent freeze plan is ‘unravelling’

Rent
Many properties have been taken off the market because of the new policy (pic: Terry Murden)

Nicola Sturgeon’s rent freeze is unravelling just days after it was announced in the Scottish parliament, according to a lettings industry leader.

Landlords accused the government of introducing the policy without appropriate planning or even any clear understanding of how the private rented sector operates in Scotland.

David Alexander, who heads up DJ Alexander in Edinburgh, said Patrick Harvie, the Green party minister in charge of this policy met with John Blackwood of the Scottish Association of Landlords on Wednesday but was unable to provide any detail of how the policy would be implemented.

He also failed to say how it will impact on evictions and rent rises which are already under way. He told Mr Blackwood that the details were still being worked on by civil servants.

Ms Sturgeon today told parliament that emergency legislation will be introduced “within three months” .

“There is an imperative to help people in the cost of living crisis and the detail will be within the legislation”, said the spokesperson, “My understanding is to to legislate as quickly as practically possible.”

In the Holyrood Chamber, the First Minister said: “The emergency legislation will be introduced very soon. We haven’t yet determined the date for that but we need to introduce it soon as parliament needs to act at pace.

Following Tuesday’s announcement, Mr Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords, said he had been “inundated by landlords saying they will be removing their vacant properties from the rental market, and I don’t blame them.”

David Alexander
David Alexander: ‘policy was designed to gain publicity’

Mr Alexander, who earlier this week accused the government of announcing the plan as a cover for a failing housing policy, said: “That the minister in charge of this policy seems to have little or no understanding of how it is to be implemented is both damning and shocking.

“This all smacks of a thrown together policy to gain some publicity and deflect attention from the appointment of the new Prime Minister.

“Furthermore, the Scottish Government does not even seem to know or understand its own legislation.

“Another minister explained the lack of consultation with landlords prior to the announcement was to prevent rents being increased before the policy was implemented.

“As all landlords know rents can only be increased in Scotland with three months’ notice and tenants can appeal against any increase.

“The notion that this needed to be announced with no consultation with landlords highlights just how unaware the Scottish Government is of how their existing legislation operates and also their desperate need not to consult, not to be open, and to make decisions without any understanding of the consequences.”

Mr Alexander said the rents freeze would not help those in social housing as the next revidew does not take place until 1 April.

“So this is an announcement clearly designed to gain headlines without any real impact on the tenants it purports to be helping,” he said.

He concluded: “This whole process has been one of short sighted, ill-considered opportunism with little concern for the lives of the tenants and landlords that it affects.

“Everyone involved in the sector has been inundated with calls as tenants and landlords are worried about how this will impact on their lives.

“And yet we have A Scottish Government minister stating vaguely that there will be an update at some point in the future.

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“At a time when Scottish councils are housing the homeless in hotels hundreds of miles from their hometowns; when housing shortages are at a record high; when demand is exceeding supply by thousands; and when 132,000 people are on the social housing waiting list, the Scottish Government gives its people a soundbite.”

Ms Sturgeon told parliament that she could not halt rising energy bills but she could ensure people had a roof over their heads.

But the announcement on Tuesday sparked fury across the housing sector.

The Scottish Property Federation revealed that a multi-million pound investment into the sector has been put on pause directly as a result of the announcement.



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