Scottish Citizens Assembly commended for backing rent controls

Living Rent, a tenancy union, have commended the Scottish Citizens Assembly for overwhelmingly supporting a reintroduction of rent controls on private landlords.

Thursday, 21st January 2021, 7:00 am
Aidan Callahan, 21.

The Assembly recommended controls on the amount that private landlords can charge in rent and called on the Scottish government to work more closely with tenant unions moving forward.

They also recommended that the government try to bring in great regulations that would support the building of truly affordable, high quality, housing as well as for more eco-friendly practices to be adopted by developers.

The report also advocates for a points-based system of rent controls linked to the quality and amenities of a property, rather than just market rates.

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The “Citizen’s Assembly of Scotland”, which was launched by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in 2019, was established to be representative of the country, and answer key questions about the future of Scotland.

Its recommendations are not binding, but the government has committed to producing an action plan in response to their reports.

The report advocates for a points-based system of rent controls linked to the quality and amenities of a property, rather than just market rates.

Shirley Islam, 49, social care worker from Bo’Ness who is a member of the assembly, said: ““I think for a lot of young people today they are stuck in a trap of extortionate rents but also outrageous mortgages. How is someone with an average wage supposed to live comfortably in rented accommodation today. You often see ‘affordable housing’ advertised but affordable for who exactly?

“What the assembly allowed was for a variety of voices from various backgrounds to come together to tell their truths. From landlords to young tenants we were able to hear from a wide consensus.

“We came to the conclusion that we had to support a recommendation to try to tackle the inequality gap between older home owners and younger people struggling to achieve security.”

Aidan Callahan, 21, a musician from Falkirk also a member of the assembly, said: “I’d like to hammer home the point that the assembly was looking to provide guidance on what we, the people, want to see for housing. It is clear that where we are right now is not good enough and that we can help this process through our recommendations.

“I will be honest that I did worry that there would have been a big divide between landlords and homeowners, and what young people hoped to see to help them access more secure tenancies, whether that was renting or making it easier to buy homes. But the truth is that 96 percent of us backed recommendations for rent controls and there was a lot of support for other progressive housing measures.”

Living Rent, who have been calling on the Scottish Government to crack down on “sky-high rents”, welcomed the support as evidence of a growing public consensus in favour of rent controls.

Rufus Bouverie, from Living Rent, said: “As rents continue to spiral out of control, it is clear that landlords and the market simply cannot be trusted to deliver affordable housing on their own. While tenants up and down the country pay extortionate rates for shockingly poor quality homes, more and more people are going to see that we need rent controls to get the situation under control.”

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