The Scottish Housing Bill

Following on from last week’s post on the government’s proposed redress scheme, we have decided to take a look at the Scottish Housing Bill which addresses mandatory licensing of letting agents as well as the abolition of right to buy.

Early on this week Scottish MPs voted in favour of licensing letting agents, in order to further regulate the industry. Housing minister Margaret Burgess mentioned that she worked alongside letting agents and landlords’ organisations for the measures, and is convinced that the regulation will have ‘teeth.’

The bill also plans to abolish the right to buy social housing at a discounted rate by 2016, after MSPs voted in favour – 103 votes to 12. Burgess stated that with 185,000 people on waiting lists for council housing, it is unacceptable to allow social housing to be bought into the private rented sector. On the other hand, the Tories have stated that by removing right to buy, ministers are kicking the housing ladder away from those hoping to own their own property.

If the redress scheme is passed in England and functions alongside the Scottish Housing Bill, lettings agents will face greater checks and will be subject to greater accountability. This will contribute to the efforts being made to clean up the industry. Furthermore with the housing shortage becoming an increasingly visible issue, the abolition of right to buy in Scotland may persuade MPs to adopt the same initiative in England.

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