Scotland Is Freezing Rents, Will England Do The Same?
As energy bills soar and food costs more, rents are also increasing significantly. The Scottish government is taking drastic action to battle the cost of living crisis by freezing rents.
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The Scottish government are putting their foot down
A devolved government finds itself in a strange position during a cost-of-living crisis. It doesn’t have the power to take action on things that have affected the crisis, i.e. the war in Ukraine, energy supply issues and poor wages across Britain. However, they still have pressure from voters to take action.
They have turned their attention to housing costs, specifically by freezing rising rents. Nicola Sturgeon’s government froze all rents for tenants living in private and social rented housing , allowing for no increases until at least March 31, 2022. On top of that, there will be a ban on emergency evictions this winter.
A new campaign is also being set up to educate Scottish renters about their rights and give them the option to apply for a one-off grant. The money will come from the fund originally set up to help tenants during the pandemic.
Sturgeon emphasised that all of the changes outlined were temporary and were put in place to give security for those fearing the burden of an upcoming difficult winter.
It certainly is an interesting experiment for economic observers.
Will the Rest of the UK follow suit? Many say yes
Tenant activist groups, like Generation Rent, have been calling for similar measures in England for years. Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has asked for the power to freeze rents for over two years in the capital. Mayor Sadiq Khan said that a rent freeze was ‘exactly what Londoners need’.
Housing campaigners and tenants believe that more needs to be done to help tenants suffering from the renting crisis. Tenants Union Acorn said that a recent survey of private renters showed that 48% per cent of people had received a rent increase from their landlord since January 2021. The average rise is 11%, but some were as high as 67%.
Acorn’s Policy officer Anny Cullum gave a passionate statement: ‘The market cannot be left to regulate itself because a person’s right to a safe, secure, affordable home should never rely on the goodwill of others.’
Julia Spence, a tenant in East Dulwich, London, told The Times that along with a bill increase of £140 per month, her landlord is now putting up the rent by 95%. This comes alongside higher food costs and a further incoming hike in energy costs.
For the past year, Julia and her flatmates have paid £2,100 per month together. The rent is set to be put up to £4,100 when their contract ends. When the group tried to negotiate the price, the landlord threatened to serve them with a section 21 eviction notice, where it is not necessary to establish that any wrongdoing has taken place.
Landlords Clearly Aren’t Thrilled About Rents Being Frozen
Ben Beadle, the chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, says Scottish landlords have ‘taken one for the team here’. He adds: ‘The only saving grace is that Liz Truss will not want one of her first moves to replicate Nicola Sturgeon.’
John Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords, said that he had been ’inundated by landlords saying they will be removing their vacant properties from the rental market, and I don’t blame them due to the rent freeze. He believes Scottish ministers have ‘chosen the easy option of attacking landlords for political reasons’ and that this action will have a long-term effect on the housing supply.