LAST week’s decision by the Scottish Government to axe rent freeze in Scotland from April is an example of why government should not get involved in private enterprise, according to entrepreneur Lord Willie Haughey.

He was referring to Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Greens co-leader, in what many have said is an embarrassing climbdown for the government, confirming that the rent freeze would go with landlords now permitted to increase rent by 3 per cent.

Emergency legislation, freezing rents in Scotland for tenants until March 31, was brought in last October with landlords at the time expressing both anger and concern over the policy. Some said it would lead to landlords leaving the sector and have a detrimental effect on the private housing market.

Mr Harvie, who is also the Scottish Government’s Tenants Rights’ Minister, also said that changes to the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) Act will mean the safeguard for private landlords will be amended, allowing them to apply for increases of up to 6% to help cover certain increases in costs in defined and limited circumstances.

Enforcement of evictions will continue to be prevented for all tenants except in a number of specified circumstances.

Lord Haughey stressed the importance of engaging with industry experts and taking advice before introducing any new legislation and appealed to the Scottish Government: “Please, before you come with any bills, get the experts in and your SpAds (special advisers) and look at the downsides.”

Agreeing with Lord Haughey, Sir Tom added: “This wasn’t thought through. The initial thought was that a rent freeze was good but if they had brought in the industry and listened to make informed policy … they didn’t. I am glad you are calling this out because it shouldn’t be allowed.”

The current problem with housing, particularly social and affordable housing, is the cost of building homes, said Lord Haughey. “We must focus on getting the cost of building homes down so that people’s costs per month are not 52% of their income – we need to work to get that dramatically reduced.”