LABOUR is attempting to revive proposals to cap rent prices after a Holyrood committee dropped the plans amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Scottish Labour’s housing spokesperson, Pauline McNeill, introduced a bill at Holyrood earlier this year, attempting to cap rent increases for tenants with private sector landlords.

But the plans were kicked into the long grass when Holyrood’s local government committee dropped the proposals last week – pointing to the Covid-19 pandemic causing a heavy workload and a lack of time for other proposed legislation. Following the move by the Holyrood committee, it’s unlikely the bill will be brought back onto the table before next year’s Scottish Parliament election.

But Ms McNeill has now launched a petition to push for the Scottish Government to take forward the Bill itself – having claimed the SNP has teamed up with the Scottish Conservatives in an attempt to block her plans.

She said: "It is hugely disappointing that the SNP has lined up with the Tories to block the Fair Rents (Scotland) Bill from progressing further.

READ MORE: Ministers urged to set tougher private rent controls

"But Nicola Sturgeon has another chance to show that she is on the side of hard-pressed renters. We are calling on the Scottish Government to adopt the Bill, as it has done with other legislation proposed by Labour MSPs in the past and ensure that it goes forward for debate."

Mike Dailly, a solicitor advocate at the Govan Law Centre, helped to draft the legislation with Ms McNeill, which he says took two years to develop and had the support of 28 MSPs across four parties when it was introduced.

He added: "Yet it is understood that MSPs on a committee decided in private session to terminate it without any public explanation.

"The year-on-year escalation of private rent increases is unsustainable, especially in a Covid-19 world where tens of thousands of Scots have seen their incomes drop, with redundancy and unemployment looming for all too many.

READ MORE: Mike Dailly: How rents became unfair in Scotland

"Scotland needs to talk about private rent affordability. Our parliament needs to act to give vulnerable tenants some basic legal protection."

Responding to the launch of the petition, SNP MSP George Adam said: "Coronavirus has had an enormous impact on everything in society and that includes parliamentary time.

READ MORE: Campaigners call for Scotland-wide rent controls to help tenants

"Many proposed Bills, further progressed than this one, have had to be delayed or paused as Parliament rightly focuses on the urgent need to respond to the health and economic crisis.

"There are only seven months of the parliamentary session before the next election, during which committees will have a heavy workload including Covid-related work, the budget and existing legislation.

"It is simply not possible for committees to do everything at once and it is disingenuous of Labour to claim otherwise."