The Scottish Government announced today a series of emergency measures to help combat the rising cost of living. Two new measures specifically apply to the private rented sector (PRS); a suspension on evictions during winter and a rent freeze on existing tenancies to run from today until at least the end of March next year.
What does a rent freeze mean for landlords with existing tenancies?
The short answer: it’s not a big deal.
Given everything that’s going on relating to the cost of living and how much rents have risen in the last 2 years, rent increases this winter would be inappropriate and unnecessary. Going into any winter in the PRS, but especially this one, it’s the prerogative of landlords to keep tenancies going. It is certainly not to put their tenants under increasing financial pressure.
What about the moratorium on winter evictions?
This legislation is intended to prevent homelessness this winter and it’s easy to understand why this has been introduced. It’s extremely rare for a Umega tenancy to end in an eviction (less than 1 in a 1,000 tenancies) but there could be a fringe case where the suspension of winter evictions will make a bad tenancy situation worse. This legislation is complicated in that it covers a number of different contexts and reasons for tenancies coming to an end. The extent to how potentially damaging this will be for landlords depends on their situation.
Rental properties are in short supply. How will this affect new landlords in the market?
It won’t affect them at all.
For first-time landlords who are renting their property for the first time, they will not be impacted by either of these temporary changes. This is because a rent on a new tenancy is not normally reviewed in the first year of a new tenancy (hence not relevant to the 6 month rent freeze) and it’s extremely unlikely (and unlucky) if a landlord was looking to gain an eviction order before March next year for a new tenancy.
The response from our industry to today’s announcements will undoubtedly be about how this is bad news for landlords and an anti-landlord move from the Scottish Government. In reality, this is a move that will be a welcome relief for many tenants without a significant negative impact on the vast majority of landlords.
While we would like to see the Scottish Government do more to encourage new landlords into the sector, as well as improve the deal for tenants, today’s announcements should help reduce some of the fear tenants will be feeling about rising costs everywhere else this winter.