Labour has introduced a Bill in Scotland which will introduce a further clampdown on rents.
The so-called Mary Barbour Bill, proposed by Pauline McNeill MSP, seeks to enforce fair rents by the introduction of a points-based system.
It would link rents to average wages to ensure affordability, and give tenants powers to challenge rents and seek reductions.
Rules on restricting rent rises to once every 12 months are already in force in Scotland, via the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act, but the new Bill would go further. Labour says that it would ensure that no one is “forced to rent a home that pushes them into poverty”.
The Bill is named after Scottish campaigner and socialist heroine Mary Barbour, who organised rent strikes, actively opposing evictions.
At First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “We have seen the return of private landlordism and rents have soared whilst wages have stagnated.
“According to the Scottish Government’s own figures, over 40% of all children living in the private rented sector are now living in poverty. That is 60,000 children.”
He added: “We think that private rent rises should be capped and controlled. So Nicola Sturgeon has a choice, will she take the side of rogue landlords and a broken housing market – or she can back Labour’s plans, and back our Mary Barbour Bill.”
South of the border, Housing Secretary James Brokenshire has rejected rent controls, but Labour supports them.
In recent years, Scottish housing legislation has set a precedent for what happens in England and Wales – notably the tenancy fees ban and the abolition of ‘no fault’ eviction.
A consultation on the Bill is at https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/FairRentsBill/