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Labour MSP blasts Scottish Government opposition to rent freezes to help tenants

A Labour MSP has blasted the Scottish Government after it ruled out bringing in an emergency rent freeze.

Mercedes Villalba, who represents the North East, had proposed a halt to rental increases until a system of national rent controls can be introduced.

The measure would be targeted at private landlords but council and social housing tenants would also benefit.

But Patrick Harvie, the minister for tenants’ rights, said it was “not something that I could recommend the government supporting”.

The Scottish Greens co-leader is leading a Holyrood review of rent controls with a view to legislation taking effect by 2025.

According to Living Rent campaigners, rents have risen by 10 per cent across Edinburgh, Glasgow and much of the central belt in the last year.

They are calling for action to be taken now.

In a letter to the Labour MSP, Harvie added: “The near-blanket approach, coupled with the lack of opportunity for engagement, means that it is at high risk of successful challenge.

“I do not believe that there is benefit for tenants in a provision which unravels at first tug – that is why I remain committed to carrying out the detailed work necessary to put in place robust rent controls which aim to actually achieve the intended protection.”

Villalba said: “It’s very disappointing the minister for tenants rights is so strongly opposing a rent freeze that would offer real protection to tenants, against the backdrop of the worst cost of living crisis in decades.

“For Patrick Harvie to criticise a temporary rent freeze as a ‘near blanket approach’ is showing a lack of support for poverty-stricken tenants.

“These tenants desperately need the government to introduce measures to prevent landlords hiking up rents, while we await the introduction of a permanent system of rental controls that ministers promised.

“I hope that the Scottish Government will rethink its opposition to my proposal to protect renters, and that SNP and Green MSPs vote to support the proposal to freeze rents.”

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