Earlier this month I added my support to Shelter Scotland’s Make Renting Right campaign.
The campaign is calling for reform of the private rented sector so that it works for tenants and landlords with specific calls regarding security of tenure and predictable rents.
Reform of the private rented sector was an issue which Scottish Labour put on the agenda as part of the Housing Bill passed by Parliament earlier this year. Our amendments included a cap on rent rises to stop tenants being ripped off and restricting rent reviews to one a year.
During debates on the Housing Bill, I was disappointed that the Scottish Government chose to oppose Labour amendments. I was therefore surprised to see the number of SNP MSPs who signed up to Shelter’s campaign during last weekend’s SNP Party Conference.
Some parts of the country have seen huge increases in average rents. In Glasgow, the average rent for a two bedroom property stands at £636 per month while in my own region, the Lothians, the equivalent is £779. In Aberdeenshire, a two bedroom property rents for an average of £898, an increase of 40% in just four years
I have campaigned for a number of years on issues related to housing quality and supply in Edinburgh. House prices in the city are almost 40% above the national average while the waiting list for social housing currently stands at around 27,000 people. The result is that many people have no option but to choose private rented accommodation.
Rising rents, accompanied by rising household bills have seen many people struggling to make ends meet. Recent research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation suggests that the number of private rented households living in poverty has doubled in the last decade to 120,000.
Reversing this trend has to be a priority which is why I am backing Shelter’s campaign.