August 18

Extended Rent Controls Experiment Continued Risk


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The ongoing experiment with rent controls and eviction bans in Scotland, driven by a political alliance between the Scottish National Party and the Scottish Greens, may extend until 2026.

This alliance has enabled the implementation of significant policies, including controversial rent controls and eviction bans, which have been in effect since mid-2022. The Scottish Greens support the SNP to secure key votes, leading to policy agreements beyond the SNP’s original manifesto. This alliance is underpinned by proportional representation in the Scottish Parliament.

Over the recent weekend, prior to the announcement of the three-year extension of the alliance, Scottish media reported statements from certain SNP members expressing that the agreement was detrimental to their party, while some Green ministers were viewed as causing embarrassment.

Fergus Ewing, a member of the Scottish Parliament from the SNP, previously labeled the Greens as “fringe extremists.” He has now voiced in a Scottish national publication that they should be kept far from any government role.

Reiterating his stance for a renegotiation of the alliance, Ewing states: “The Greens are perceived as primarily accountable for a series of detrimental policies in the past two years. It’s essential to terminate this unfavorable agreement before it adversely impacts us.”

Additionally, Robin Harper, a former Scottish Greens leader, recently resigned from the party, criticizing the current leadership as “reckless and overconfident” and characterizing them as “self-assured and confrontational.”

The mastermind behind the rent control and eviction prohibition policies is the current Green co-leader, Patrick Harvie.

In June, the Scottish Parliament approved an additional six-month extension to the rent controls, extending them until March 2024.

This implies that the majority of rent increases during tenancy would remain restricted to 3.0 per cent. On the other hand, landlords could request up to 6.0 per cent increments to accommodate specific cost rises within a defined period, supported by evidence.

Furthermore, eviction bans would be prolonged for another six months for most tenants, with exceptions in specific scenarios. Notably, severe penalties of up to 36 months’ rent for wrongful evictions would still be enforced.

Harvie points out that between 2018 and 2020, 63 per cent of social rented households and 40 per cent of private rented households lacked sufficient savings to cover a month’s income at the poverty threshold. In contrast, only 24 per cent of mortgage-paying households and nine per cent of outright owners faced this challenge.

Addressing the Parliament recently, he emphasized that rented sector households were more vulnerable than owner-occupiers, entering the financial difficulties posed by the cost of living crisis.


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Green Party, Rent Controls, SNP

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