UNISON fully supports this bill to regulate rents in the private rented sector (PRS). We represent some of the lowest paid workers in Scotland and our members are amongst the growing number who rent privately. They tell us that they do not earn enough to get a mortgage, cannot afford to buy, and have no prospect of getting social housing.
We believe the measures in the bill are extremely important but they must go hand in hand with an expanded publicly funded programme of council house building and new housing association homes. To tackle the root of the problem we must radically change the housing market by ramping up the supply of social rented housing.
We fully support the proposal to enable a fair open market rent to be determined independently by a Rent Officer. However, we would prefer to see rent regulation extended beyond existing PRS tenancies to also include the initial rents for homes coming onto the rental market. We recognise that the bill seeks to achieve the maximum effect with minimum impact in terms of additional costs. If resource constraints on local government were less severe, we would prefer the initial price of new properties entering the market to also be determined by a Rent Officer, to ensure that rents are fair from the outset.