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Rent freeze “chaos” as politician cannot give details - claim

* Angels Media and Letting Agent Today are deeply saddened by the passing of HM Queen Elizabeth II *


The controversial rent freeze policy in Scotland, which only started this week, has been described as already being “in chaos” by a top lettings agency chief.


David Alexander - chief executive of DJ Alexander, part of the Lomond Group - says Patrick Harvie, the minister in charge of this policy, met with the Scottish Association of Landlords and was unable to provide any detail of how the policy would be implemented.

He is also accused of not knowing how it would impact on evictions and rent rises already underway, nor could he say when the necessary legislation would be put before the Scottish Parliament. The details were still being worked on by civil servants, Harvie told the association. 

Alexander says: “That the minister in charge of this policy seems to have little or no understanding of how it is to be implemented is both damning and shocking. This all smacks of a thrown together policy to gain some publicity and deflect attention from the appointment of the new Prime Minister.

“Furthermore, the Scottish Government does not even seem to know or understand its own legislation. Another minister explained the lack of consultation with landlords prior to the announcement was to prevent rents being increased before the policy was implemented. As all landlords know rents can only be increased in Scotland with three months’ notice and tenants can appeal against any increase. 

“The notion that this needed to be announced with no consultation with landlords highlights just how unaware the Scottish Government is of how their existing legislation operates and also their desperate need not to consult, not to be open, and to make decisions without any understanding of the consequences.”

Alexander says the process has been one of short sighted, ill-considered opportunism with little concern for the lives of the tenants and landlords that it affects. 

“Everyone involved in the sector has been inundated with calls as tenants and landlords are worried about how this will impact on their lives. And yet we have a Scottish Government minister stating vaguely that there will be an update at some point in the future” states Alexander. 

“At a time when Scottish councils are housing the homeless in hotels hundreds of miles from their hometowns; when housing shortages are at a record high; when demand is exceeding supply by thousands; and when 132,000 people are on the social housing waiting list, the Scottish Government gives its people a soundbite” he concludes.

Meanwhile Harvie himself has been giving media interviews on the subject, including one to the Scottish Daily Record newspaper.

In it he hints the rent freeze - which came into effect immediately it was announced on Wednesday this week - could be extended beyond its proposed ending of late March next year.

“We’ll decide, in the light of the circumstances as they change, what the situation will be after March, whether the current measures, both on rent freeze and moratorium on evictions, will continue after for a continued period” Harvie tells the newspaper.

“There are private landlords who have also tried to keep rent low during the pandemic, who want to look after their tenants. And we absolutely respect that. Sadly, there are also...a disreputable end of the private rented sector where we’re seeing really eye-watering increases at the moment” he adds.

“In the face of a cost of living crisis, we can’t also pass on unbearable costs to tenants in the private rented sector. But those who seek to abuse the power that they have as landlords, I think it’s pretty clear that we need to make sure that that kind of behaviour simply is not permitted.”

  • Simon Shinerock

    ‘those who seek to abuse the power’ I doubt he recognises the irony of his own words


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