Tenants and leading trade unionists have signed an open letter to the Scottish Government as the cap on rents is due to come to an end next month.

After April 1 landlords will again be able to raise prices, but only up to the current market value of the property.

In addition, tenants will be able to refer the increase to a rent officer for adjudication if they feel the increase is too high, with the officer able to restrict the increase if they find in favour of the tenant.

However, campaign group Living Rent says such 'transitional measures' will be hard to enforce and could be confusing for renters, as well as pointing out that Glasgow, Edinburgh and Argyll & Bute councils have already declared housing emergencies.

Read More: 'Under the government's nose': Landlords using rent freeze loophole to hike rates

In an open letter they, along with several prominent trade union leaders, have called for a national rent cap until permanent controls can be passed in law, warning "tenants across Scotland cannot afford to wait for change".

The letter, addressed to First Minister Humza Yousaf as well as housing minister Paul McLennan and minister for tenants rights, Patrick Harvie, says: "We know that unaffordable rents are a major driver of poverty.

"Housing is the largest financial outgoing in most households, and while low pay is the main cause of escalating poverty rates, our market-driven housing system is the main driver of both poverty and wealth.

"Scotland’s lowest paid workers are forced to pay a significant proportion of their incomes on rent, with those on the minimum wage paying 50% or more of their take home pay, often on poor quality, badly insulated housing.

"You have the power to address this crisis. We urge you to consider the emergency that tenants are facing post March 2024 and intervene before it reaches every local authority in Scotland."

The letter is signed by Roz Foyer, General Secretary of the Scottish Trade Union Congress, along with leaders from UNISON, Unite, GMB, UCU, the RMT, PCS, and the CWU.

Read More: Roz Foyer: Here is one concrete step we can take today to tackle the housing crisis

Data from the Scottish Government published in November revealed that between 2010 and 2023, rents across Scotland have increased on average  51.6%.

In some Local Authorities, increases are even sharper - in Lothian rent increased 79.3%, and in Greater Glasgow rent increased 86.2%. Inflation was  45.7% during the same period.

Living Rent’s National Campaign’s Officer, Ruth Gilbert said: “Tenants will be pushed to the edge by the end of the rent cap and eviction ban. The rent cap provided a temporary bandage over a growing crisis, but it has not addressed the fundamental issue that rents are out of control.

"Government regulation is simply not strong enough. Landlords are exploiting every loophole and opportunity to increase rent and displace tenants while blaming the existing rent cap for an out of control market. 

"Rents in Scotland have continued to rise in line with the rest of the UK because the temporary measures don’t go far enough, and don’t apply between tenancies. The solution to this is a robust system of rent controls tied to the property, not the tenancy, which protects all tenants. 

"With the Scottish Government receiving criticism from across the board due to its cuts to affordable housing and its ending of the rent cap, it is clear it urgently needs to review its housing strategy, reverse its cuts to affordable housing, and introduce a national rent cap and eviction ban. Without this we will see a tidal wave of rent increases, de-facto evictions and a sharp rise in homelessness.”