CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed a u-turn from MSPs who are now considering plans to protect people from uncontrolled rent increases.

Holyrood’s local government committee said it was binning the plans for the fair Rents (Scotland) Bill due to a lack of time before May’s election.

The Bill will allow private tenants to apply at any time to a rent officer for a “fair open market rent” to be set for a property. In deciding the application, the officer would take into account matters like whether the property has poor energy efficiency or is in a bad condition.

The Bill would also make private landlords enter more detailed information about their property in the Scottish Landlord Register, including the monthly rent charged.

READ MORE: Scottish Labour attempt to revive rent cap proposals kicked into long grass amid Covid-19

But following pressure from Scottish Labour and Mike Dailly at Govan Law Centre, the committee has confirmed it will now reconsider the bill and has appealed for evidence on the subject.

Scottish Labour communities and equalities spokesperson, Pauline McNeill, who had put forward the proposal as a member’s bill, has welcomed the change of heart.

She said: “I was very concerned about the position of back-benchers like myself who put years of effort into a bill proposal only for it to be dropped by a committee.

“For that reason, I was very pleased that Mike Dailly, of his own accord, took a petition to the Court of Session on behalf of his client Jayne Ely.

“I am absolutely delighted that the Local Government Committee have now had a change of heart. “ She added: “Scotland needs more than ever an effective set of laws that give tenants the right to have their rent assessed and action to curb above inflation rate increases.

“I call on the Scottish Government to listen to renters in these difficult times and support this bill as a first step in serious law reform in the private rented sector.”

Jayne Ely from tenant campaign group Living Rent, added: "I'm really pleased that this Bill is finally going to be considered by Parliament.

READ MORE: Why is Edinburgh more expensive to live than the rest of Scotland?

“It is important for low income families like mine that this issue is taken seriously, especially given the effect the coronavirus is having on our incomes and jobs.”

The cap on rent rises imposed by the Bill and the right to seek a “fair open market rent” would apply to holders of private residential tenancies which have been the standard type of tenancy since 2017. The Bill will not impact rent-a-room agreements where the lodger rents in the owner’s home.

Convener of Holyrood’s local government and communities committee, James Dornan, said: “The proportion of households in private rented housing now stands at just under 15 per cent.

“As the private rented sector in Scotland has grown over the last couple of decades there have been various reforms to tighten the regulation of landlords and give tenants more rights. But the stated ambition behind this Bill is to change the balance of power further. It would cap rent increases to one per cent plus CPI and to allow tenants more scope to challenge rents.”

He added: “We are keen to hear views about whether this further change is necessary and whether the provisions in the Bill are workable and will have the intended impact.

“We also want to find out what the financial impact of this Bill would be upon private tenants, landlords, the wider rented sector and others, and we welcome the opportunity to hear views on this proposed legislation.”