There are few things as crucial to us as where we live. Everyone’s home should provide comfort, security and affordability.

With Scottish Greens using our influence in government, we will soon be taking the next big steps to improve protection for tenants, building on progress made since devolution.

For lots of people across the country, the past few years have been really tough. Budgets have been stretched and prices have soared, but those pressures have been even more acute for people living in private rented homes.

In 2010, the average cost of renting a two-bedroom private flat in the Forth Valley was £492. It is now £748, an 51.9 per cent increase through a period of Tory austerity when households and families have been facing pressure from all sides.

Those pressures have been especially acute over the past two years which is why, in 2022, my Scottish Green colleague, Patrick Harvie, Minister for Tenants’ Rights, introduced emergency legislation to bring in a rent cap and other protections to support households across our country through the cost of living crisis.

There are many people all across Scotland who have saved money as a result, and who have been able to keep a stable and secure roof over their heads throughout the pandemic and a period of high inflation and bills.

The cap was lifted on March 31, which was the final date allowed by the legislation.

In the short term, we are have introduced new protections from April 1 that limit rent rises and avoid a cliff edge for tenants.

Under the new rules, tenants must still be given the normal three months’ notice of any rent rise, but we’re also making it easier for them to challenge extreme rent rises, so that rents cannot simply increase to whatever the landlord demands.

The Scottish Government website has a simple rent calculator tool, so helps people see how the rules will work.

But it’s not just the affordability of housing that has been a big source of anxiety – it is also the insecurity that so many have felt.

We know that we need more than short-term solutions. That’s why we’ve now launched a ground-breaking new Housing Bill to deliver a New Deal for Tenants.

This Bill includes important action to stop unfair evictions and new rights to allow tenants to make their house a home: from simple things like giving the right to keep pets and decorate, to greater penalties for illegal evictions as well as a national system of rent controls.

It’s a package of reform that I believe will work for tenants, but which will also support those good, responsible landlords who want to provide secure, high-quality homes at a fair cost. Across Europe, well-regulated renting goes hand in hand with more investment.

I don’t believe we should accept a future in which fewer and fewer people can afford to live comfortably and where a warm and secure home is a pipedream.

No home and no tenant can be left behind if we are to build the sort of society where everyone can have stability, peace of mind and a place to call their own.