Unions call for Scottish council candidates to back 'urgent' rent controls

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Trade unions are demanding council candidates sign up to support the implementation of “urgent” rent controls to help tackle the cost of living.

It comes as the Scottish Trade Unions Congress (STUC) launched its council election manifesto, which includes a demand to the Scottish Government for more capital funding for local authorities to help build social housing.

Private sector rents have risen significantly in recent years. Edinburgh rents have soared by an average of 41 per cent in the past decade, almost twice the rate of inflation since 2010.

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The STUC has called on council candidates to demand urgent rent controls.The STUC has called on council candidates to demand urgent rent controls.
The STUC has called on council candidates to demand urgent rent controls.

Glasgow rents have also risen by just over 41 per cent, with Fife and Forth Valley rents also rising by more than 30 per cent.

General secretary of the STUC, Roz Foyer, highlighted how private sector tenants are “feeling the strain” of a “horrendous” cost-of-living crisis.

She said: “Low pay, skyrocketing energy costs in addition to increasing inflation has pushed workers across Scotland to the brink.

“This cannot continue. We need to see an urgent intervention from local authorities to pressure the Scottish Government for rent control legislation. This is over and above the long overdue increased funding for social housing building programmes.

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“We’re calling on all council candidates to back our manifesto demands, ensuring tenants, workers and people across Scotland have the real assistance they need to tackle the spiralling cost of living crisis experienced by so many.”

The Scottish Government have committed to implementing an effective national system of rent controls and to enhance tenants rights as part of the SNP/Green co-operation agreement.

Patrick Harvie is set to announce the details of the new deal for tenants by the end of 2022, with the plans going through the consultation process.

One tenant, Will, from Edinburgh, said his landlord wanted to increase his rent by almost 10 per cent and only reduced that increase to 8 per cent after attempts to negotiate.

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He said this was despite a 54 per cent rise in the cost of energy and the fact he was “yet to receive any form of pay rise”.

Will added: “Speaking to neighbours, it seems like we're all being imposed this.

“The landlord will get an astronomical increase in their income, profiting off our labour during a cost-of-living crisis. That's why I support the implementation of rent controls.

"We need pressure from local councillors to force the Scottish Government into action for tenants. We can’t afford to wait.”

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Andrew Kellard, a branch secretary for the tenants’ union Living Rent, said rents, like other aspects of the cost-of-living crisis, were “out of control” and rising at an “untenable” rate.

He said: “Living Rent believes that Scotland needs rent controls tied to a point-based system to ensure tenants’ rights to housing and support Scotland’s commitment to tackling climate change.

"Many cities around the world have demonstrated the success of this approach. Rent is tied to tangible improvements in the home and is never allowed to run wild. This ensures quality, secure housing for all and keeps landlords in check.

"Given the urgency of the crisis, tenants cannot afford to wait and local councils must take urgent action to address this crisis now.”

Want to hear more from The Scotsman's politics team? Check out the latest episode of our political podcast, The Steamie.

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