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Rent freeze threatens social housing too, say housing associations

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations says its members are key to tackling the cost of living crisis but rent freezes, soaring construction costs and net zero targets all threaten their ability to play their part.  

Giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Finance and Public Administration Committee on the impact of the cost of living and public service reform, SFHA spokesperson Aaron Hill said that without increased government investment, housing associations would not be able to build the affordable homes that are needed to tackle poverty if a proposed rent freeze is implemented.  

If approved by Scottish members of parliament this week, the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Bill will give ministers temporary power to cap rents for private and social tenancies, with this cap set at 0% – effectively freezing rents – from tomorrow until at least March 31 2023, and possibly for a year even beyond that. 


Enforcement of eviction actions resulting from the cost crisis will be prevented over the same period except in a number of specified circumstances. 

Hill said: “It is crucial that housing associations are able to continue building the affordable homes Scotland needs. Rents in the social housing sector are roughly half of those charged in the private sector, which directly helps to tackle poverty.  

“Over half of social tenants are entitled to have their rents covered by welfare benefits, so a rent freeze will not affect their actual income but will mean housing associations have to cut back on service provision. Scotland will lose out on investment in housing and communities: so the unintended consequence is that the Treasury wins and tenants in Scotland lose out on more affordable homes. 

“Soaring construction costs, net zero targets, and rent control all threaten our members’ ability to build homes. The Scottish Government must increase investment year on year for social landlords and rethink its plan to introduce rent controls or it risks missing its target to build 110,000 affordable homes by 2032.” 


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