Real Estate

New power sharing agreement could be bad news for Scotland’s rental sector – Property Industry Eye

As the SNP and Scottish Greens agree a new power-sharing partnership at Holyrood, property professionals warn aspects of the Scottish Greens manifesto could come into play.

On Friday August 20th, the SNP and the Scottish Greens announced a new power-sharing partnership at Holyrood.

They have now confirmed that two Green MSPs will be appointed as junior ministers in Nicola Sturgeon’s government.

With the Greens getting a louder voice, property experts have recalled aspects of the Greens’ manifesto and what changes they may push, especially in Scotland’s private rented sector.

Nicola Sturgeon has described the agreement between the SNP and the Scottish Greens as “ground-breaking” but professionals warn it could be catastrophic for the sector. Their 2021 manifesto states “We will legislate to transform the private rented sector, providing greater security for tenants, regulating rents, and improving standards.”

Listed as a ‘New deal for tenants,’ the party also states it wants to ‘Introduce a points-based system of rent controls,’ and ‘Ban winter evictions and end unfair evictions by making all grounds for eviction discretionary.’

After a 3-day debate, Scottish officials made the decision in June to extend their temporary COVID-19 measures, seeing all grounds for possession be discretionary, until March 2022 with the provision to be extended until September 2022.

Daryl McIntosh, Propertymark’s Policy Manager based in Edinburgh, previously stated that this pushback “would provide enough time for new legislation to go through the Parliamentary process and to be implemented with the concern that Scotland could never see mandatory grounds come back into play.”

Whilst Propertymark has stood behind regulation of the sector to drive out rogue agents and landlords, their stance on rent controls has been made clear.

“Rent controls are not the answer,” stated Timothy Douglas, Propertymark Policy and Campaigns Manager in the run up to the London Mayoral election. “What’s needed is proper enforcement of existing rules, additional supply and more social housing.”

Daryl McIntosh commented:

“At a time when demand for privately rented homes is massively outstripping supply, several of the Greens’ proposals risk deterring private landlords from the market.

“The Private Rented Sector provides a vital service in the housing system and recently this contribution feels forgotten -surely an ill thought through policy objective.”

Whilst there are legislative changes the parties disagree on; they appear to be united in their visions for the housing market.

In the 2021 Election manifesto, the SNP proposed introducing a Rented Sector Strategy and a Housing Bill which will ‘increase protection for tenants’ whilst separately carrying out a full review of the current tenancy regime.

This alignment makes the possibility of further changes to the sector ever more likely.

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