THREE-quarters of Scots would support a government move to cap the rents charged by private landlords, according to a new poll.

Survation also found almost half of people would be more likely to vote for MSPs who stood on a manifesto promise to introduce rent controls.

Commissioned by the tenants’ union Living Rent, the poll of 1023 adults said support for rent controls was highest among SNP supporters and lowest among Tory voters.

The figures coincided with Labour releasing a new analysis showing the number of Scots children living in severe poverty in the private rented sector has doubled in a decade.

Drawing on Scottish Government data, it found the number had grown from 20,000 in the three years between 2005/06 and 2007/08 to 50,000 between 2015/16 and 2017/18.

Rent regulation is common across Europe, with specific percentage caps on increases during tenancies.

However a report by the housing charity Shelter last year said the Scottish Government had rejected that approach in favour of a “largely free market approach to rents”.

Tenants are meant to be protected from excessive rent hikes by formal reviews by rent officers and inflation-linked limits in areas designated as Rent Pressure Zones. But Shelter said the measures were “opaque” and hamstrung by a lack of hard data.

Survation found 66% of people thought the Scottish Government should limit how much private landlords can charge in rent, with 22% opposed, and 12% undecided - the equivalent of 75% in favour once don’t knows are discounted.

Asked if they would be more or less likely to support a local candidate for Holyrood who backed rent controls, 46% said more, 11% less likely, and 38% were neither of the two.

The loss of social housing through right-to-buy and less council house building have seen the private rented sector grow from around 150,000 to 400,000 properties since 1999.

Gordon Maloney, from Living Rent, said: “These figures should be a wake-up call to the Scottish Government. Rent controls are enormously popular. Far too many tenants across the country are being forced into poverty by sky-high rents.

“Now we need urgent action. If politicians turn a blind eye to the housing crisis, voters will not forgive them.”

Labour MSP Pauline McNeill said: “The housing crisis is creating acute child poverty across Scotland. A lack of affordable public housing forces people to rent privately and as a result they are paying rip-off rents which hammers their cost of living.

“We need an urgent change of pace – building more homes for social rent and fixing the problems in the private rented sector. Building more homes is key, social housing is the best value for money as an investment in the nation’s housing stock.”

Green MSP Patrick Harvie, whose party has also campaigned hard on rent controls, added: “With Scotland in the midst of a housing crisis, it’s no surprise that the overwhelming majority of Scots want to see change. For years rents have been increasing faster than incomes, but the first time the Greens proposed rent control legislation the Scottish Government denied the problem and stated they had no intention of acting. Our persistence eventually led to limited new laws for local rent regulation in the worst affected areas. It’s clear public impatience is continuing to grow. Nationwide rent controls are urgently needed.”

SNP Housing Minister Kevin Stewart, said: “The new private residential tenancy – introduced in December 2017 - provides a range of measures to help tackle high rents, including limiting rent increases to once in 12 months, with three months’ notice required, enabling tenants to challenge unfair rent increases and providing local authorities with new discretionary powers to designate an area as being a Rent Pressure Zone.

“This year, new regulations will make changes to the repairing standard that will improve the condition of private rented properties.”