SNP and Green politicians will be forced to choose whether to introduce an emergency rent freeze for struggling tenants – or vote against it.
North East Labour MSP Mercedes Villalba is trying to strongarm the government into introducing measures as part of its Covid Recovery Bill at Holyrood.
The SNP-Green administration is already consulting on legislation which would bring in a form of rent controls before the end of the current parliamentary term.
But Ms Villalba says tenants “cannot afford to wait for three or more years”.
She wants to change the legislation to immediately freeze rents until the longer term controls are agreed.
What will that mean for MSPs?
The amendment will be voted on by MSPs of all parties who will need to decide whether to back or oppose the move, or abstain completely.
Under the proposal, ministers would be forced to produce a plan to complete a rent freeze within three months of that section of the Bill coming into force.
It would then remain in place “until the Scottish Ministers bring forward legislation in relation to rent control measures”.
Ms Villalba said low income and hard-pressed families are being hit by soaring rents and going without essentials.
“SNP and Green MSPs must vote for this parliamentary amendment to protect impoverished renters and ensure that it passes into law, as part of the Covid Recovery Bill,” she said.
“A failure to support these measures will be an abject betrayal of low income and hard-pressed families, who are suffering from grinding poverty due to Tory policies.”
‘Little more than warm words’
We reported previously how concerns that struggling renters are being offered “little more than warm words” as they campaign for help during the cost of living crisis.
In February, researchers analysed 199,000 rental adverts to reveal where in the UK renters are being priced out and where demand far outstrips supply.
They found that 66% of people in Aberdeen can’t afford the average rental price of £437 with an average budget of £389.
Tenants rights’ minister Patrick Harvie said: “The Bill extends important rights which were introduced at the start of the pandemic to provide stronger protection to tenants against eviction.
“These measures were consulted on before the Bill came into Parliament.
“At the same time, we have consulted widely on our New Deal for Tenants.
“This sets out a whole range of reforms – from further protection against eviction to more rights to personalise tenants’ homes and higher quality standards.
“The New Deal also makes clear our commitment to tackle high rents and affordability by introducing rent controls, and doing so in a way which makes them robust and gives long-lasting benefit to tenants.
“That will only be achieved by considering all the consultation responses, and we intend to do that before legislating.
“When we debated this in Parliament over the last few months it was clear that there was widespread support for this approach, alongside our package of recent and ongoing help for tenants with rent costs now.”