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Committee supports Private Rented Housing Bill

18 January 2011

The Scottish Government bill to regulate private tenancies has been given a qualified go-ahead by a Holyrood committee.

In its stage report on the Private Rented Housing (Scotland) Bill, the Local Government and Communities Committee gives qualified support to the measure, which includes amendments to landlord registration, licensing of houses in multiple occupation, and the law on overcrowding, with the aim of improving standards and promoting sustainable growth in the private rented sector.

The committee recognises that the bill will tighten up requirements in relation to landlord registration, but remains concerned about the implementation and enforcement of these provisions. This will be dependent on local authorities having the resources to implement the provisions and on the courts imposing higher fines on those landlords who fail to register.

It welcomes the bproposals in relation to houses in multiple occupation as they will protect groups such as migrant workers and support local authorities in enforcing legislation. The bill will also establish a link between planning permission and an HMO licence, to address problems such as the subdivision of accommodation without planning permission.

On overcrowding, the committee is concerned that the bill could complicate the current position on homelessness and local authorities' duties. It believes that the bill will make it difficult to predict with any certainty the number of homelessness cases and whether there will be space in the private and social rented sector to house displaced people. The committee would welcome more information from the Government on this issue.

Committee convener Duncan McNeil MSP said: “The provisions in this bill will help tackle problems associated with unregistered or 'rogue' landlords and the licensing of HMOs, as it proposes giving local authorities greater powers to implement and enforce legislation.

“While the committee agrees with the general principles of the bill, we believe that the success of any eventual legislation will be dependent on local authorities having the resources to implement it. Equally, success depends on the courts recognising the problems caused by 'rogue' landlords and imposing higher fines.”

Click here to access the committee's report.

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