“Poverty, which is already rife among renters, is likely to get much worse.”
MSPs from the SNP, Scottish Greens and Conservatives all voted against the amendment, which was defeated by 94 votes to 21.
Deputy prime minister John Swinney said he recognised that some MSPs wanted the government to go further to protect tenants in the bill.
He insisted ministers had maintained some protections in the legislation despite “some calls for those provisions that have supported tenants and prevented evictions to be removed”.
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Swinney said: “The Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights (Green MSP Patrick Harvie) emphasised that we will continue our detailed work with stakeholders to further raise awareness of tenants’ rights, and to explore how we can make better use of existing powers and increase access to rent adjudication, which is key to challenging unfair rent increases.”
Conservative deputy leader Murdo Fraser warned during the debate that more tenancy legislation could “see an even faster exodus of private landlords from the market” leading to further shortages of private rented homes and even higher rents.
Greens housing spokesperson Ariane Burgess also said the amendment was “unworkable” arguing that landlords would evict tenants to raise rents.
But Scottish tenant union Living Rent called for emergency protections to be introduced to protect tenants from rent hikes and evictions as the rising cost of living continues to squeeze household incomes.
Megan Bishop, Living Rent secretary, accused landlords of “pouring petrol on the cost of living crisis” and called on Holyrood to introduce emergency protections.
“By voting down a rent freeze and failing to come up with any other adequate emergency protections to prevent unaffordable rent increases, the Scottish government has failed tenants,” she said. “The Scottish government needs to introduce protections to prevent unaffordable rent increases or face the ‘tidal wave of evictions’ they warn against, when tenants are forced to leave their home due to rent increases.
“MSP’s need to put aside their political point scoring, take responsibility and regulate landlord’s greed. Though the government has promised rent controls in 2024, this is too far away when tenants need emergency protections to prevent unaffordable rent increases now.”
While rent controls that cap rent rises to below inflation do have the support of the Scottish government, there is less support from the Westminster government citing the impact on investment in the private rented sector and the standard of homes.
But there is plenty of support among the public for rent controls in England with 72 per cent of Brits backing the policy according to an Ipsos poll released this week.