A New Deal for Tenants - draft strategy: consultation
We are consulting on the draft A New Deal for Tenants - rented sector strategy, which seeks to improve accessibility, affordability choices and standards across the whole rented sector in Scotland.
Vision and aims
This Draft Rented Sector Strategy Consultation sets out and seeks views on how we can deliver a new deal for tenants to progress the right to an adequate home and deliver our vision for Housing to 2040. It aims to ensure all tenants, whether living in private or social rented homes, can access secure, stable, tenancies, with affordable choices - whilst also benefiting from good quality of homes and professional levels of service and rights.
We believe a whole sector approach is required so that tenants should have the right to expect value for money and good housing outcomes irrespective of what tenure they are living in. Housing systems are integrated, neighbourhoods and even buildings are mixed, and each sector can learn from the other in best practice.
It is acknowledged in this draft Strategy that the private rented sector has further to travel than the social sector and therefore the weight of policy proposals where views are being sought, are for the private rented sector. However, we are looking to work with all private and social landlords and tenants to ensure our proposals will support good outcomes for all tenants.
This draft Strategy is an important first step in a phased approach to introduce reform during the course of this Parliament. Key actions identified to deliver improvements include:
- delivering a new deal for private rented sector tenants that puts them on a more equal footing with social rented tenants, through the introduction of a new Housing Bill in the second year of this Parliament;
- establishing a regulator for the private rented sector that will enforce defined standards and considering the role of the existing Regulator covering social rented housing - through legislation by the end of this Parliament;
- implementing a national system of rent controls for the private rented sector, whilst exploring what further action we can take to ensure rents in the social rented sector are affordable by the end of 2025;
- creating a new Housing Standard covering all homes; and
- regulating to set minimum standards for energy efficiency and zero emissions heating.
This ambitious programme of change is crucial in ensuring we progress towards fulfilling the human right of an adequate home for all and that our housing stock is maintained for future generations.
Recognising the significant change represented by these proposals, this consultation is seeking to explore a wide range of interconnected policies and issues, enabling us to gather input and views from a wide range of stakeholders - including tenants and landlords as well as investors in the sector – so that we can identify the best actions, whilst also working to mitigate the challenges that will co-exist.
In Chapter 3, we are seeking views on the existing grounds for repossession and setting out proposed action to deter landlords from undertaking illegal evictions by increasing penalties and compensation for tenants. Building on the success seen in preventing evictions during the pandemic, and to support our aim of ensuring everyone has a safe, warm, affordable home that meets their needs, we also set out what further action we could take to introduce new restrictions to evictions in winter and ways to support the development of Tenants Unions and other ways of engaging tenants.
To ensure we can progress a meaningful right to an adequate home we must ensure rented homes are affordable. To tackle high rents in the Private Rented Sector we have committed to implementing an effective national system of rent controls by 2025. This draft Strategy seeks your views, in Chapter 4, on how we should take action to make rents affordable, whilst also setting out how we can learn from international evidence and what has or hasn’t worked elsewhere. This critical part of our strategy will be subject to a further consultation ahead of finalising proposals for rent control.
Alongside looking at how to provide affordable options, it is also vital that there is an adequate supply of homes for rent in places where they are needed, as this can also impact on choice and affordability. The Scottish Government already invests significantly through the Affordable Housing Supply Programme and work with private sector funders and suppliers to maximise the delivery of the right homes in the right places. But we are keen, through questions in Chapter 5 of the Strategy, to gather views on what more can be done to ensure that the supply of rented homes continues to play a key role in addressing the affordability issues we are facing in Scotland.
To help embed a strong rights based approach across the whole rented sector, Chapter 6 invites views on establishing a new housing standard and then how a new housing regulator for the private rented sector could contribute and support enforcing those standards and raising standards of service. Given the range and complexity of the issues to be considered as part of establishing a new Regulator, we propose to bring together a range of stakeholders and experts to inform development of the options to deliver on our commitment to introduce a regulator for the private rented sector by 2025.
Throughout this consultation document we recognise that people’s experiences of the housing system can differ, and it is particularly important to recognise and understand the different experiences of those who share a protected characteristic. Our vision is for people to have equality of outcomes no matter what tenure they live in. We want to act on what we know about these differences in experience but we are also seeking views to better understand these experiences to ensure our final strategy drives greater equality in housing outcomes.
We want to hear your views
The draft Strategy sets out an ambitious set of proposals for a phased approach to introducing change, over the next four years in particular. We are keen therefore to gather a broad a range of views, experiences and evidence as we develop the final strategy for publication by the end of 2022.
Further details on how to participate in the consultation and the process for submitting a response, by the closing date of 15 April 2022, is provided at Chapter 7.
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