LEGISTLATION which will aim to keep more Clacks residents in their homes has been hailed as a “big step forward”.

The Housing (Scotland) Bill published on Wednesday, March 27, will require councils to carry out assessments on the condition of the private rental sector and make recommendations to ministers about imposing rent controls.

Proposals are also to introduce an “ask and act” duty on social landlords and bodies, such as health boards and the police, to ask about a person’s housing situation and act to avoid them becoming homeless wherever possible.

MSP Mark Ruskell, Scottish Green representative for Mid Scotland and Fife, hailed the bill as a bit step forward in addressing anxieties many families are feeling.

He said: “The past few years have been really tough for a lot of people in Clacks.

“Budgets have been stretched and prices have soared, and those pressures have been even greater for people living in private rented homes. 

“This bill will be a big step forward in terms of addressing the anxiety that so many households and families are feeling and in providing greater security and peace of mind.

“It’s not just bricks and mortar that make a home. It’s all of the personal touches that make a place more special.

“It’s an important right, but it's a freedom that has been denied for hundreds of thousands of tenants across the country.”

The bill also introduces new rights for tenants, giving them greater flexibility to decorate their home and to keep pets among other things.

This legislation will build upon the 2022 decision to introduce a temporary emergency cap on rents and eviction protections during what has been the worst cost of living crisis in a generation. 

The present cap will be lifted on March 31, the final date allowed by the legislation. 

In the short term, new protections will be in place from April that will limit rent rises in Clacks.

Under the new regulations tenants must be given three months’ notice of any rent rise, which they will be able to challenge so that rent increases cannot simply rise to whatever the market dictates.

Mr Ruskell added: “I am delighted that this bill will allow more people in Clacks to decorate and keep pets and to turn their houses into homes.

“I want everyone in Clacks to have a warm, secure and affordable place to call their own, and this bill will be crucial to making that a reality.”

The bill will outline proposals for a New Deal for Tenants, a key part of the Bute House Agreement between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Green Party.

Housing minister Paul McLennan and tenants’ rights minister Patrick Harvie will lead the bill’s passage through Scottish Parliament.

Mr McLennan said: “Early action, through the kinds of measures included in the Housing Bill, results in fewer people reaching the point of housing crisis.

“It also means people facing homelessness have more choice and control over where they live, helping them to maintain relationships in their community and stay in work.”

Mr Harvie explained that a fairer, well-regulated rented sector is “good for both tenants and landlords”.

He added: “Tenants benefit from improved conditions and security, while good responsible landlords will thrive when their good practice is recognised by regulation.”