Responses to proposed Fair Rents (Scotland) Bill published

As we reported back in June 2019, Scottish Labour MSP Pauline McNeill published a consultation on introducing a Member’s Bill in the Scottish Parliament to place a blanket restriction on private rented sector (PRS) rent increases. 

During the consultation period SAL chief executive John Blackwood had a constructive meeting with Pauline McNeill to discuss her proposals. John raised concerns about the potential for negative and unintended consequences of the proposals including higher and more frequent rent increases. Also discussed was the need for measures to improve data on mid tenancy rent increases which will allow the extent of the alleged problem to be better understood and rent pressure zone (RPZ) applications to be submitted where rent increase data supports this. SAL also arranged for Ms McNeill to meet SAL members at parliament on 2 October so they could share their concerns about rent caps potentially being imposed on the Scottish PRS. SAL’s response to the consultation can be found here.

A summary of the consultation responses has now been published and can be read here. In relation to the main element of the proposed Bill, to cap PRS rent increases annually across Scotland at one percentage point above inflation (measured according to the CPI index), 40% of respondents were in favour and 54% were opposed. Despite this opposition, Ms McNeill has lodged a final proposal in Parliament.

If the final proposal secures the support of at least 18 other MSPs from at least half of the political parties or groups represented in the Parliamentary Bureau, and the Scottish Government does not indicate that it intends to legislate in the area in question, Ms McNeill will then have the right to introduce a Member’s Bill. Once introduced, a Member’s Bill follows a 3-stage scrutiny process, during which it may be amended or rejected outright. If it is passed at the end of the process, it becomes an Act. It is worth noting the usual timescale from publication of a Bill to any resultant legislation coming into force in Scotland is at least two years. We will keep members informed as usual of this situation as it develops.