A prominent Labour politician in Scotland has made an outspoken attack on the private landlord sector in her call for an immediate rent freeze.
Mercedes Villalba, a Labour Member of the Scottish Parliament, says on Twitter: “We can win a rent freeze for Scotland’s tenants. We can redirect money from private profit back into workers’ hands. Not an aspiration, nor a goal, not a fund nor a scheme. An automatic rent freeze now, this year.”
Also on social media she says: “We cannot leave tenants without any protection from rent increases in the months ahead as the cost of living crisis deepens. The Scottish Parliament must do its bit for tenants and vote today for a rent freeze.”
Villalba tried to amend the Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) (Scotland) Bill which is going through the Scottish Parliament.
The Bill has already raised hackles in the lettings industry by seeking to make permanent the much greater rights of tenants against evictions, originally introduced as a temporary measure during the pandemic.
Supporting Villalba was Megan Bishop, the secretary of activist group Living Rent.
She says: “Landlords are increasing our rents during a cost of living crisis and despite our wages falling in real terms. Landlords being able to act with impunity and without a second thought to their actions plunging thousands of tenants into poverty needs to stop. Our housing remains unaffordable and increasingly unliveable.
“With over half of properties failing repair standards and nearly two thirds having an energy efficiency rating of D or lower, it is time that the Scottish Government regulated landlords and put tenants’ need for a home first.
“Though the Scottish Government has committed to introducing rent controls by 2025, this is too far away when landlords are raising rents now. We need emergency measures to protect tenants until rent controls are brought in to bring rents down.”
Villalba failed in her bid to amend the legislation.