Rented households are more likely to have lower household incomes, higher levels of poverty and to be financially vulnerable. The current costs crisis exacerbates existing social and economic pressure faced by those living in a rented home, making them more vulnerable as a whole. These pressures are particularly acute during the winter months given the rise in fuel use and costs during this period.
To respond to the emergency situation caused by the impact of the costs crisis on those living in the rented sector, the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Act 2022 ("the Act") introduced a temporary, variable rent cap and a temporary moratorium on evictions, along with increased damages for unlawful evictions – until at least 31 March 2023 provided it remains necessary and proportionate. The Act also contains powers to temporarily modify the rent adjudication process in connection with the expiry of the rent cap. Hereafter, all references to statutory provisions (i.e. 'section' or 'Part' numbers) relate to the Act unless otherwise specified.
Similar to our response to the emergency situation caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, the Scottish Government legislated on the basis that immediate action was required to respond to the exceptional economic circumstances currently being faced across Scotland as a result of the costs crisis. In seeking Parliament's approval to pass the Act enabling us to respond to the crisis, the Government has made clear:
- that the powers taken are proportionate in order to respond to the costs crisis and will last only as long as required; and
- that the Scottish Parliament have continued oversight of the necessity of those powers and hold Scottish Ministers to account for their use.
To facilitate our accountability to the Scottish Parliament, this is the first report on the review of the operation of the provisions in Part 1 with a view to considering whether those provisions remain necessary and proportionate in connection with the cost of living (per section 9(1)(a)). As part of the review process, a consultation exercise has taken place with local authorities, and a wide range of stakeholders that represent the interests of tenants, landlords and financial institutions/investors that may be affected by the Act.
Specifically, the report will cover the following:
- how any of the powers conferred by Part 1 have been exercised (section 9(2)(a));
- the steps that Scottish Ministers have taken to meet the requirement in section 3 to ensure that tenants affected by the provisions of Part 1 receive appropriate information, advice and support for the period during which Part 1 remains in force (section 9(2)(b));
- the status (whether or not any power under a provision has been exercised, whether it is still in force, whether it has been suspended or revived or expired during the reporting period) (section 9(2)(c)(i) and section 9(5));
- a statement that the Scottish Ministers are satisfied that the status of those provisions is appropriate (section 9(2)(c)(ii));
- a summary of how the views of those consulted were taken into account by the Scottish Ministers in finalising this report (section 9(3) and (4)); and
- a consideration and explanation of proposed action in relation to the rent cap as regards the social rented sector (section 9(7)).
The end of the first reporting period for the Act is 31 December 2022 and our commitment is to publish this (the first) report within 14 days of the reporting period ending. Thereafter, the reporting period shall be three-monthly whilst Part 1 remains in force and subsequent reports will be laid before the Scottish Parliament within 14 days after the end of each reporting period. This helps ensure that the Scottish Parliament has regular oversight of the legislation, allowing it to hold the Scottish Ministers to account for their use of the powers available to them, and is important as part of our commitment to transparency.
Statement by Ministers on their satisfaction that the status of the Part 1 provisions is appropriate (required by section 9(2)(c)(ii) of the Act)
This report covers the period from 28 October to 31 December 2022. Scottish Ministers have undertaken a review of the provisions of Part 1 of the Act, in order to consider whether those provisions remain necessary and proportionate in connection with the cost of living.
At the end of this reporting period, it is clear that the unprecedented economic challenges are continuing to impact acutely on those who rent their home and therefore, having considered the outcome of this review, Scottish Ministers are satisfied that the status of the Part 1 provisions in the Act is appropriate at the end of this reporting period. This will be kept under review going forward.
Scottish Ministers have also undertaken a review of the Scottish Statutory Instruments (SSIs) related to the Act and are also satisfied that the status of the SSIs, at the end of this reporting period, is appropriate.
Patrick Harvie MSP
Minster for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants' Rights
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