Fighting for Fairer Renting Conditions
Independent groups are campaigning for fairer renting conditions in Scotland as accommodation costs soar.
Over a seven-year period, Scotland saw an average 19.9% cumulative increase in monthly rent for 47% of properties, from £536 in 2010 to £643 in 2017. Although illegal fees were abolished in Scotland in 2012, investigations by the BBC have found many letting agents are still charging occupants these fees.
Campaign group, Living Rent, are pushing for better legalisation and tenant rights, while also providing support for their members with landlord disputes.
Board member, Gordon Maloney, says Living Rent was first launched to influence the 2016 housing act: “We were calling for three things: better flexibility, more security, and rent controls. We ran a huge campaign with petitions and lobbying and building a big coalition.”
Living Rent’s actions influenced the Scottish Government to scrap short assured tenancies and no-fault ground for eviction, as well as introducing local rent controls across Scotland.
While calling for rent controls, Maloney said student accommodations agencies requested for an exception from these legalisations.
Keith Burns, Vice President Support at Strathclyde Students’ Union, believes student halls are more expensive on average than private rented sector accommodation. To combat this, he secured rent freezes for the next academic year at University of Strathclyde student halls, meaning accommodation prices will not be increasing.
Burns also noted the increase of “luxury accommodation” developments for students.
“Many places within the private rented sector require students to have a UK-based guarantor which many international, EU and care experience students do not have”-Kevin Burn
He said: “I am very concerned about [luxury accommodation]. More areas of land are now being taken up by these developments. Land which could be used to provide students and the local communities with more affordable housing.”
Burns is concerned for international students: “Many places within the private rented sector require students to have a UK-based guarantor which many international, EU and care experience students do not have.
“International students pay thousands of pounds for their tuition fees and it is unfair that these students are limited to the more expensive options for accommodation.
“More needs to be done at a local authority level to ensure that future housing developments provide affordable accommodation for both students and the local communities.”
When fighting against increasing rent prices, Burns recommends people “call on their local councillors to support the introduction of rent control zones which will help to stop continually rising rents.”
Burns also suggests joining the local Living Rent branch.
Living Rent has over 300 members across Scotland, with their main branches in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
They are currently campaigning to ban winter evictions, which has been brought up in parliament by both Labour and SNP. A petition is available to support this cause.