NUS Scotland calls on Scottish Government to close loopholes in new housing bill which hurt students

NUS Scotland calls on Scottish Government to close loopholes in new housing bill which hurt students

NUS Scotland President Ellie Gomersall: Scottish Government must listen to students & close housing bill loopholes

As the Scottish Government today publishes its Housing Bill, NUS Scotland is calling for them to close loopholes that disproportionately negatively affect students and undermine the bill’s aims.

Despite months of warning from NUS Scotland and others, the newly published bill fails to extend tenants protections or rent controls to include Purpose Built Student Accommodation. This loophole not only puts students at greater risk of exploitation by predatory companies but also undermines the bill’s effectiveness for all, as the wider renter population will now be more likely to have to compete with more students seeking price-controlled and better regulated private rental properties.

Further to this, NUS Scotland is calling for the government to ensure that new rent control measures properly tackle Scotland’s housing emergency by bringing rents down to affordable levels instead of just slowing their rise, which would be little comfort to those who already can’t afford to live.

Finally, NUS Scotland is concerned that interim measures between when emergency rent cap & eviction ban end, and when the new housing bill comes into effect are entirely inadequate and risk pushing renters off a cliff-edge after 31 March. The proposed stopgap measures would allow huge unaffordable rent increases that even if appealed through an adjudication process could still reach up to 12%, pulling away a much-needed safety net in the midst of a housing emergency.

Students need the Scottish Government to address these issues as a failure to do so would be ignoring the seriousness of the housing crisis, a luxury unaffordable to Scotland’s students. An NUS study found that a horrifying 12% of students in Scotland have experienced homelessness during their studies, which far exceeds the rate in the general population1. Further to that, student rents on average increased at three times the rate of student support between 2021 and 20232.

Commenting, NUS Scotland President Ellie Gomersall said:

“While it is great to see the Scottish Government finally publish their flagship housing bill introducing much needed rent controls and tenant protections, it is still to be seen if it will rise to the challenge of truly tackling the housing emergency facing Scotland.

It is deeply concerning to see no provision for regulations to apply to Purpose Built Student Accommodation but myself and all of Scotland’s students take heart in the fact that it is not too late for the government to go back to the drawing board and correct this mistake.

It is vital for them to listen to students if they want this to be an effective and success bill, the measures must not simply slow rent rises but bring rates down to an affordable level - and must be revised to be free from loopholes which disadvantage students, and instead be made to apply equally to Purpose-Built Student Accommodation."

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