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Scottish housing bill targets bad landlords

Rogue landlords in Scotland will have more to worry about than where they can obtain cheap landlord insurance in the future, as they have been targeted in new legislation that will be welcomed by tenants and good landlords alike.

Scottish housing minister, Alex Neil, unveiled the proposals in the Private Rented Housing (Scotland) Bill and explained that the legislation will improve how landlords are registered and help councils identify and deal with bad landlords.

The proposals introduced at Holyrood on Monday are aimed at rooting out landlords who charge exorbitant and sometimes extortionate rents without providing a good service. The bill will demand tenants are provided with a pre-tenancy information pack explaining their rights and the landlords obligations. The rules around ‘fit and proper person’ to be a landlord will be tightened up to possibly include landlords providing a criminal record check.

The new bill has been welcomed by many organisations in Scotland including, Shelter, the housing charity, the Scottish Students Union, the Liberal Democrat political party and the Private Rented Strategy Group whose chairman, Douglas Robertson, said “We are pleased that the government fully took on board our proposals for ensuring transparency for both parties in relation to tenancy conditions through the introduction of a tenancy pack.”

Minister Neil emphasised that good landlords had nothing to fear from the bill and went on to say “We want to encourage a vibrant and responsive private rented sector, which provides good-quality and well-managed accommodation. I see the private rented sector as more important than ever in providing good-quality accommodation, given the economic challenges that face the public sector.”

The bill will be backed by fines of up to £50,000 and can ban landlords from operating rental businesses for up to 5 years.

By Simon Dack

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