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HomeWorld NewsEmergency Rent Freeze and Eviction Ban Becomes Law in Scotland

Emergency Rent Freeze and Eviction Ban Becomes Law in Scotland

Temporary state-dictated rent controls become law until at least March 2023 in Scotland.

The Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) Act gives ministers temporary power to cap rent increases for public and private rented properties, as well as for student accommodation.

The Scottish government says this is to help with the cost of living crisis. The Bill received Royal Assent on Friday, understood to be the first piece of Holyrood legislation to be given so by King Charles III.

The emergency law applies to in-tenancy rent increases, with the cap set at zero percent from 6 Sept. 2022 until at least 31 March 2023, effectively freezing rents for most tenants during this period.

It will not be possible to give notice of a rent increase whilst the cap is at zero.

Enforcement of eviction actions resulting from the cost crisis are prevented over the same period except in a number of circumstances such anti-social behaviour and criminality.

Damages for unlawful evictions have been increased to a maximum of 36 months’ worth of rent.

Landlords will be allowed to apply to a Rent Officer (part of Rent Service Scotland) to increase rent if they can prove that they face increased costs, such as mortgages.

All-Time high

According to CityLets, 2022 saw average rents in Scotland rise 8.3 percent, at £981 per month, which was a new all-time high for the country.

Organisations such as Scotland’s tenants’ union Living Rent argue that the situation for Scotland’s renters is now “unsustainable and untenable.”

On Oct. 3 the Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights and Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “The cost-of-living crisis is an emergency situation demanding an emergency response.”

“People who rent their homes are more likely to live in poverty or be on low incomes than homeowners. As such they are particularly exposed to rising prices, and it is imperative that we bring in support for them urgently,” he added.

Harvie said that “we know that many landlords have been doing what they can to protect their tenants, but some tenants are being hit with large rent increases that are hard to justify.”

“This legislation aims to protect all tenants from substantial increases, balancing the protections that are urgently needed for tenants with safeguards for those landlords who may also be impacted by the cost crisis,” he added.

‘Temporary Protections to Become Permanent’

Propertymark, along with the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL), National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) and Scottish Land and Estates (SLE) are currently seeking legal opinion on the legislation.

Timothy Douglas, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Propertymark, the professional body for property agents across the UK, told The Epoch Times: “It’s unfair to suggest letting agents and their landlords have been routinely increasing rents at a time when many tenants are facing a further strain on their finances.”

“They too will be are exposed to the effect of the cost-of-living pressures as a result of rising mortgage costs,” he said.

“We know the Scottish Government is committed to a system of rent controls and was already considering a ban on winter evictions. What’s most alarming is that this feels like déjà vu with the potential for these new temporary protections to become permanent as has been the case with others introduced during the pandemic,” added Douglas.

Douglas warned that this “emergency legislation must not be allowed to effectively become a pilot scheme that enables Ministers to wave through longer-term rent controls without meaningful consultation with the property sector.”

“The most effective solution to issues of affordability is to pursue policies that can help to provide more homes across all tenures, rather than continuing the constant assault on private landlords, who already have enough reasons to exit the market,” he said.

PA Media contributed to this report.

Owen Evans


Owen Evans is a UK-based journalist covering a wide range of national stories, with a particular interest in civil liberties and free speech.

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