Responding to last week's News spotlight on East Kilbride's housing crisis, local Green candidate Kirsten Robb (East Kilbride East) is calling on South Lanarkshire Council to introduce private sector rent controls to help tackle poverty. The Private Housing (Tenancies) Act, introduced last year, permits local authorities to do this by declaring areas as 'rent pressure zones'.
An extreme lack of housing for social rent has led to a decades long waiting list, and forced people to pay sky-high rents in the private sector. Although there have been recent welcome commitments to build more social and affordable housing, these are insufficient to meet demand, and so private sector rent controls are needed to tackle poverty now.
Kirsten said, "I recently met a woman from Calderwood working two jobs just to cover the £450-a-month rent of her two bedroom flat. The cost of private renting is pushing people into poverty. That's why the Scottish Greens backed Living Rent's campaign for a national system of rent controls in our Holyrood manifesto last year."
"Until that is achieved, the recent government legislation allowing councils to introduce rent pressure zones should be used to control rents. I believe there is wider political support for this and, if elected as a local councillor in May, more social housing and improved conditions for private tenants, including rent controls, will be amongst my top priorities. I want to ensure no one is pushed into poverty by reckless rent increases."
Kirsten previously campaigned for South Lanarkshire Council to introduce pressured area status for East Kilbride which would have cancelled the right to buy for social housing at a local level so more homes would have been available for social rent. Labour-led SLC did not take this opportunity and it was eventually introduced nationwide by the Scottish Government last year.
For more information see the following:
- http://www.livingrent.org/ - The campaign for rent controls, aiming to improve the quality of private housing and reduce high cost pressures.
- https://greens.scot/blog/5-ways-the-scottish-greens-will-make-renting-right Scottish Greens backing for rent controls and better quality private rented sector housing
- http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2016/19 The Private Housing (Tenancies) Act was introduced before the end of the last session of the Scottish Parliament - it enables local authorities to apply for the powers to implement ‘rent pressure zones’ in areas where rents are rising particularly rapidly and introduce rent ceilings
- Some additional facts from https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/3879/campaigners-ask-snp-what-happened-rent-controls-sp16:
- Rent costs increased by 6.6 per cent last year, well above the rate of inflation and pay.
- According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the number of private renters in poverty has almost tripled in a decade from 11 to 29 per cent.