Scottish rent freeze – ‘a new low’ says shocked property industry

New policy is part of Scottish government's attempts to protect tenants from the cost-of-living crisis, but industry commentators argue it will have the opposite effect.

rent freeze

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has revealed a national rent freeze as part of her coalition government’s package of measures to help Scotland’s population deal with higher bills and living costs.

This follows a campaign by Labour MSP Mercedes Villalba, who says: “We have the most right wing Tory government at Westminster since the Thatcher years, with the new Prime Minister Liz Truss openly stating that she supports ‘Thatcherite’ 1980s style tax cuts for the wealthiest.

“Against this backdrop, it’s welcome that the First Minister appears to be planning to introduce a rent freeze.”

John Blackwood (pictured), Chief Executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL), said:  “Since rumours of this announcement broke this morning,  I have been inundated by landlords saying they will be removing their vacant properties from the rental market, and I don’t blame them.”

“Who on earth is going to let a property in the knowledge that they will be unable to meet their own financial and maintenance obligations if their tenants don’t pay the rent or their outgoings increase?”

“Instead of helping tenants pay their bills, the Scottish Government has chosen to penalise people who have provided the homes politicians have failed to provide for decades.”

Fair game

Link to Oursourcing featureLeading Scottish letting agent David Alexander (pictured) of DJ Alexander has also not welcomed the announcement.

“This tells you all you need to know about the Scottish Government’s commitment to consultation and fairness.

“No government would tell supermarkets, pubs, or clothing manufacturers to freeze the cost of their goods, but it seems that Nicola Sturgeon and her colleagues believe the private rented sector is fair game,” he says.

“One parliamentary source is quoted in the media as saying if the cost of a freeze was met by landlords the policy would cost the Government nothing.

“But the result of this policy will be a shrinking of the private rented sector at a time when demand is at its highest.

“This move marks a new low in the Scottish governments’ relations with the private rented sector and, given that this has been done without consultation, is a sign of desperation at a time when we need considered thought and action.”


Timothy Douglas - Propertymark - imageTimothy Douglas (pictured), Head of Policy and Campaigns at Propertymark, adds: “It is not only tenants who are exposed to the effect of the cost-of-living pressures and as a key housing provider, private landlords will be asking what help they can expect to manage any additional costs they may have to bear as a result of today’s announcement.

“Furthermore, it’s unfair to suggest letting agents and their landlords will be routinely increasing rents at a time when many tenants are facing a further strain on their finances. All parties will need to continue to work together.

“We know the Scottish Government is committed to a system of rent controls and is already considering a ban on winter evictions. What’s most alarming is that this feels like déjà vu with the potential for these new temporary protections to become permanent as has been the case with others introduced during the pandemic.”


Link to Lettings Apps featureTom Mundy (pictured), COO at Goodlord, adds: “This rent freeze represents a potentially seismic new frontier in UK lettings policy. While we understand the need to support tenants, introducing rent control could mark the end of the private rental sector as we know it by stripping away the central incentive which encourages people to invest in buy-to-let properties.

“There’s a major risk that this freeze will push landlords out of the PRS market at a time when pressure on rental stocks is particularly acute.

“This will squeeze the whole lettings market and create bigger headaches for the Scottish Government later down the line. Long-term, it could serve to stymie all future investment in the space and fatally undermine the system.”

Liz Truss promises “spades in the ground”

Meanwhile, in Downing Street last night, Liz Truss gave her first speech in which she mentioned ‘building’ several times. She said,

“I will pursue three early priorities.

“Firstly, I will get Britain working again. I have a bold plan to grow the economy through tax cuts and reform.

“I will cut taxes to avoid hard work and boost business-led growth and investment.

“I will drive reform in my mission to the United Kingdom working, building and growing.

We’ll get spades in the ground to make sure people are not facing unaffordable energy bills and we will also make sure that we are building hospitals, schools, roads and broadband.”

… but, disappointingly, houses were not mentioned.

Watch this space for more coming out of Downing Street in the coming days.

Liz Truss Downing Street image


  1. So does this mean Sturgeon will be freezing mortgage rates as well? If not Landlords with BTL mortgages, unable to raise rents could get their properties repossessed & the tenants immediately thrown on the streets. Nice one SNP! Another example of disjointed left wing ideology defying reality!

  2. Politicians , Again ASSuming all landlords are the same, financially affluent and can bear the welfare state’s financial burden.
    Tis myopic viewpoint misses the 50% of single-property owning Landlords who rely on rental income to sustain their own financial commitments.
    Inflation and price increases affects landlords Also !
    Industry bodies should be collaborating over a Judicial Review over this interference in PRIVATE business.

    I tried to co-ordinate this during the pandemic – why isn’t there the appetite ?

  3. They doing it again. Look what happened in Covid calling for Rent Holiday & no evictions etc.
    We that actually rent houses out, knew Landlords would be selling in their drives when they could after hearing stuff like this & tenants would then be worse off-And that’s what happened.
    Remaining Landlords now have mega demand & can charge what they like.

    These people in power who change sensibility make it better for that current tenant temporality, but the next 100,000 looking for a house or move cannot do so, as no Landlord takes them or if they can, super expensive rents. It’s getting a case where only the well paid can afford to rent. All Govt & Council & Shelter & Generation Rent making.

    I want rents to reduce so my tenants can have a choice to move, so I sell my ruddy houses.

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