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Rent freeze: Is your MSP or MP a landlord?

Dozens of Holyrood MSPs are landlords. Image: PA
Dozens of Holyrood MSPs are landlords. Image: PA

An emergency law was passed in Holyrood before Christmas to impose a rent freeze which is expected to last until March.

The policy means most landlords won’t be able to increase how much they charge tenants to live in their homes due to the cost-of-living crisis.

Across Scotland, dozens of MPs and MSPs from all sides of the political divide own and rent out properties for extra income.

That includes several rich Tories who are worth millions, as well as the SNP’s new Westminster leader Stephen Flynn.

Campaign group Living Rent say landlords struggle to act for the benefit of tenants because they profit from letting out homes.

So what does the official register of interest say about your politicians’ own status?

Here’s a list of the politicians representing the north of Scotland at Holyrood and Westminster who appear in parliamentary registers of interest for property.

Alexander Burnett MSP

Alexander Burnett MSP has a large property portfolio.

Aberdeenshire Tory Alexander Burnett owns a vast estate in the region which is worth up to £14 million.

His huge tract of land, named AJA Burnett Estate, has residential homes, commercial properties, agricultural land, and hosts sporting and arts activities as well.

Mr Burnett, who is a distant relative of former Russian Tsar Nicholas I, generates income of around £500,000 from this each year.

The wealthy Conservative MSP, who represents Aberdeenshire West, also has two trusts which are worth more than £15 million and £5 million respectively.

The Banchory Trust brings in around £380,000 per annum, while the Fordie Trust has gross income of about £80,000.

Despite this, Mr Burnett says he does not expect to profit from them during this Holyrood session.

A Conservative spokesperson said: “All of our MSPs who own property register their holdings in their register of interests and they can be found there.”

Donald Cameron MSP

Donald Cameron owns a huge estate.

When it comes to owning vast swathes of land and property, Highland and Islands Tory Donald Cameron stands out.

The Conservative MSP owns the sprawling Achnacarry Estate near Lochaber and enjoys the status of chief of Clan Cameron, an ancient Scottish family with extensive ties to nobility.

Mr Cameron’s estate has commercial, agricultural and crofting businesses alongside rental properties and holiday lets.

It also generates income from fish farming, shooting and telecom sites.

The estate is valued at up to £8.5 million, making Mr Cameron one of the wealthiest politicians in Scotland.

In 2021, the land earned Mr Cameron more than £800,000, but he said this did not account for any losses made by the business.

Fergus Ewing MSP

SNP MSP Fergus Ewing.

SNP veteran Fergus Ewing owns a flat, in the Moray town of Lossiemouth, which has a value of between £150,000 and £200,000.

The Inverness and Nairn MSP says he earns £5,000 from this each year.

An SNP spokesperson said: “As members of the society in which they live and the communities they serve, MSPs and MPs are constantly called on to make decisions regarding the laws that govern many aspects of how we live.

“As a safeguard, they declare all financial interests in registers of interests to provide transparency on anything which could be perceived as influencing their votes, words or actions.”

Rhoda Grant MSP

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant.

Highland and Islands Labour politician Rhoda Grant jointly owns a home on the Western Isles with five other people.

The property, located on the Isle of Lewis, brings in an income of £5,000 per annum for her.

A Labour spokesperson said “All Scottish Labour MSPs are required to properly declare relevant interests and uphold the highest standards of transparency.

Jamie Halcro Johnston MSP

Jamie Halcro Johnston MSP.

Northern MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston owns a flat in Edinburgh worth up to £350,000, which he uses when attending Holyrood.

The Highlands and Islands Tory politician also has a croft in Orkney, from which he earns £5,000 each year.

He owns an additional 150 acres of land in Orkney, but does not take any income from this.

Liam Kerr MSP

Tory MSP Liam Kerr.

North East Tory Liam Kerr rents out a flat in Edinburgh which has a market value of up to £200,000.

He earns between £5,000 and £10,000 from this a year.

Gillian Martin MSP

Gillian Martin MSP.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin came into ownership of a cottage in the area last year.

But the SNP politician says she currently takes no income from the property.

Edward Mountain MSP

Edward Mountain NHS Highland
Edward Mountain MSP.

Tory Edward Mountain has one of the largest rental portfolios in Holyrood.

The Highlands and Islands MSP owns more than a dozen properties in Moray, including farmhouses, hundreds of acres of farmland, crofts, dog kennels, and a fishing company.

Mr Mountain does not earn money from some of these, but he receives rental income for seven of his homes.

He pockets up to £15,000 each year from one Moray home worth more than £300,000 and brings in similar from another property valued at up to £500,000.

Mr Mountain earns between £5,000 and £10,000 annually from an additional five homes in the region.

The wealthy Tory MSP also makes a profit of up to £240,000 each year from his salmon fishing firm.

The 500 acres of farmland owned by the Conservative politician has an estimated value of at least £3 million.

Audrey Nicoll MSP

Audrey Nicoll held the Aberdeen South And North Kincardine seat for the SNP, after party colleague Maureen Watt retired.
Audrey Nicoll MSP.

Aberdeen South and North Kincardine MSP Audrey Nicoll recently purchased a flat in Edinburgh which is worth at least £200,000, but she does not earn money from it.

The SNP MSP previously owned a property in Aberdeen, but sold it last year.

Alistair Carmichael MP

Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael.

Lib Dem Alistair Carmichael owns farmland and a holiday home on Islay, in Argyll, which is worth more than £100,000.

But any money the Orkney and Shetland MP gets from this goes to his parents.

Stephen Flynn MP

SNP MP Stephen Flynn.

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has joint ownership of a flat in the north-east city valued at more than £100,000.

Jamie Stone MP

Jamie Stone is MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross.

Lib Dem Jamie Stone has a flat in Edinburgh worth over £100,000 which he lets out. This brings him in at least £10,000 per annum.

The Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross MP also has shareholdings in a Highland property company.

Richard Thomson MP

Gordon SNP MP Richard Thomson.

SNP MP Richard Thomson lets out a flat in Edinburgh.

The property is valued at more than £100,000 and he earns at least £10,000 each year as a result.