RENTS in Scotland for some of the nation's most vulnerable are to soar by up to 8% while those in the private sector will be capped at 3%, it has emerged.

Rent rises approved by over 100 housing associations in Scotland are at an average of 5.34% and range between 0% and 8% as arrears hit a record high of £160m.

It comes after tenants’ rights minister Patrick Harvie said in January when concerns were raised about rent increases that voluntary agreements reached with social landlords would keep rents "well below what they are in the private market and limit rises next year".

The rising rents have led to concerns amongst housing campaigners that eviction cases will also increase as tenants struggle to pay.

The typical rent rise in homes controlled by local authorities is 3.8%.

The development has come six months after the First Minister announced plans for an eviction ban and an immediate rent freeze for social housing and private tenants in September, last year as she branded the cost of living crisis a "humanitarian emergency".

The Scottish Government later turned the freeze into a rent cap of 3% but decided it would only apply to tenants renting from private landlords.

But this was not extended to those renting from social sector landlords such as councils and housing associations who tend to provide lower cost accommodation taken by the poorest and most vulnerable in the country.

The charity Crisis has, meanwhile, warned that the Scottish homelessness system is still failing to do enough to prevent people from being forced from their homes.

Their analysis based on first-hand interviews with people experiencing homelessness from around Scotland, states that the system can be "extremely difficult" for people to navigate in an emergency, with those facing housing problems often unable to get help until they actually lose their home.

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The rent rises come as housing regulator data shows that operating surpluses amongst all registered social landlords in Scotland was at £380.57m a "marginal" drop of 2.54%.


Tenants with the Lochalsh & Skye Housing Association which lets some 800 homes will see the biggest rent increases at 8%. Also seeing the highest increases are the tenants letting 742 homes with the Clydesdale Housing Association who will be hit with a 7.5% rise.

Scotland's biggest publicly funded housing association and social landlord, the Wheatley Group, which owns and manages homes in 19 of Scotland's 32 local authority areas, kept average increases to 3.9% in Glasgow and to 4.4% in the south of Scotland while suggesting that rents needed to go up by 5.4%.

Wheatley warned tenants in and around Glasgow that the 3.9% rise would mean cuts to spending in services and investment by £7.8m over the next three years.

They said it would mean the "highest level of change to our existing services and investment plans for tenants' homes".

The company told tenants in a circular: "We would keep repairs and building safety spending, but would need to reduce planned investment, such as making homes more energy efficient to reduce fuel bills, upgrades of common closes, and investment in new windows, kitchens and bathrooms."

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Another of Scotland's biggest social landlords, the Edinburgh-based Link Group, which has nearly 11,000 homes and serves 15,000 people is to raise rents by 6%, an average increase of over £20 a month.

Some 18 housing associations have set rents of 7%.

They include the Queens Cross Housing Association, which runs nearly 4500 homes across Glasgow which offered tenants the option of a 9% or below 7% increase.

The association said that it laid out its financial pressures in a consultation including higher than inflation costs and said tenants "were clear" they wanted continued investment in their homes and provision of new ones.

Sanctuary Scotland which has 8,400 homes is still discussing a 7% increase from July 1, although no final decision has been made.

Out of over 130 housing associations, the only one to have a rent freeze was Scotland's oldest ex-service charity Scottish Veterans Residences which runs just 75 homes.

The Scottish Tenants' Organisation warned that the increases will "further impoverish social tenants during an existential cost of living crisis when tenants and their families are struggling to feed themselves and heat their homes".

They said the surpluses show that landlords do not have to increase rents.

Aditi Jehangir, secretary of Living Rent said that ministers had "given in" to social landlords' lobbying and left social tenants facing "unaffordable rent hikes".

"Landlords that are increasing rents by lower amounts such as Wheatley Homes Glasgow, are cutting services, leaving tenants faced with the horrible choice of low rent or repairs. Social housing should be genuinely affordable and quality and tenants shouldn’t be left to foot the difference or be blackmailed into choosing repairs over affordable rent.

"The Scottish Government needs to invest properly in social housing and grant greater support for social tenants if it’s to ensure social tenants aren’t left behind."

Link said they had to balance rising costs with continuing to improve homes through a planned maintenance programme, providing support and assistance through money and benefit advice and other tenant support services.

"We would encourage any tenant experiencing financial difficulties to talk to us so we can collectively find a solution," a spokesman said.

Queens Cross Housing added: "Not only is inflation for repairs, investment and building services running at 20-25%, utilities costs are rising and the Association is facing an increase of more than 35% in insurance cover. There was a high number of responses to the consultation with 57% of people choosing an increase of 7% or above. Taking this figure and customers’ feedback about the level of service they want, our board approved a rent increase for 2023/24 of 7%."


Sean Clerkin,  campaign co-ordinator of the STO said there are plans for action to protest over the "unnecessary rent rises in the weeks to come as we believe that if these rent rises go ahead they will lead to a higher number of social tenants and their families being evicted for rent arrears which is unacceptable in 2023".

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Social rents are already well below those in the private sector. We welcome the significant efforts from social landlords to keep rents well below inflation for the next financial year, with an average increase of 5% and many much lower. These increases, based on consultations with tenants, will ensure landlords can maintain a balance between affordability and sustainable investment in social housing for public good.

“The cost-of-living crisis means many people are struggling, and rising inflation means social landlords have to focus on the cost of essential services.

“This is why we have secured voluntary agreements with social landlords to keep rents as low as possible while continuing to invest in services such as home improvements and maintenance.”