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Scotland’s rent freeze and eviction ban could face legal challenge

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

The Scottish government’s legislation to freeze rent and ban evictions could face a potential legal challenge.

A coalition of trade groups, including Propertymark, the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL), National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) and Scottish Land and Estates (SLE) are looking for legal opinion on the validity of the Cost of Living Bill, which was approved earlier this month.

As part of the legislation, a temporary rent cap (set at 0% until 31 March 2023) applies to rents for private and social tenants as well as for student accommodation.

Meanwhile the Scottish government also banned evictions, except in specific circumstances, and the damages required for unlawful eviction has been upped to 36 months’ of rent.

The organisations have instructed Lord Neil Davidson of Glen Clova, KC Advocate at Axiom Advocates, to explore whether the legislation breaches individual rights of landlords in Scotland, including a breach of European Convention on Human Rights.

The firms said that if Lord Davidson’s opinion makes it clear a breach of landlord rights had occurred, then legal options would be available to the coalition and a decision would be due next month.

‘Serious concerns over lack of evidence’

Propertymark added it had “serious concerns over the lack of evidence and rushed consultation” that formed the basis of decisions that will significantly impact use and ownership of property.

“Landlords and agents alike have proven their ability over the pandemic to work with tenants. Many landlords have kept their rents lower in a bid to help but it must be acknowledged that their costs are rising too. This legislation is huge for the sector and the impact on those providing much-needed homes must not be underestimated,” Propertymark said.

Propertymark’s head of policy and campaigns, Timothy Douglas, is due to meet officials later this week to discuss Royal Assent and implementation.

The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon announced in September that the government would introduce a rent freeze and eviction ban to support families during the cost-of-living crisis.

It has yet to receive Royal Assent.