mergency cost-of-living legislation to protect tenants from rent increases and evictions has been passed by MSPs at Holyrood.
The approved Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) Bill will be the first bill passed by Holyrood to be given Royal Assent by King Charles III.
The temporary legislation caps rent increases at 0% until March 31 and will be backdated to September 9.
However, Scottish ministers will be able to extend the legislation for a further two six-month periods if necessary.
Landlords will be able to increase rents if they can prove property costs have risen – provided the rise is less than 50% of the jump in property costs.
A moratorium will also be placed on evictions except in certain circumstances.
MSPs tabled a raft of amendments during the bill’s third and final stage in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.
Approved amendments included changes to the details needed from landlords to provide evidence of financial hardship, including letters from money advisors or accountants.
Tenants rights’ minister Patrick Harvie said: “I am pleased that Parliament has passed this bill to support tenants through the current cost-of-living crisis.
“People who rent their home are more likely to live in poverty or be on low incomes than other people, and many will be anxious about keeping up payments on their homes as their everyday expenses rise.
With this Bill now set to become law, tenants in the social or private rented sector, or in student accommodation, will have stability in their homes and housing costs
“With this Bill now set to become law, tenants in the social or private rented sector, or in student accommodation, will have stability in their homes and housing costs.
“I’m hugely grateful to MSPs for scrutinising and agreeing this legislation this week, ensuring these protections can be brought in with the urgency that this crisis demands.”
Concerns were, however, raised by Conservative MSPs who said a rent freeze would lead to a shortage of homes to rent.
We will work constructively with the Scottish Government, and other stakeholders, so that we do not see the damaging longer-term consequences of a rent freeze occur
And Sally Thomas, chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), said the cap on social housing rents would be “unnecessary” and “counterproductive”.
She said: “We will continue to make the case as to why this legislation must not continue after 31 March 2023.
“A rent freeze beyond this date would threaten our members’ ability to build, improve and maintain existing homes and deliver vital support services to tenants.
“In the months ahead, we will work constructively with the Scottish Government, and other stakeholders, so that we do not see the damaging longer-term consequences of a rent freeze occur. We are keen to find solutions that work for tenants, social landlords and the government.”
MSPs approved the Bill by 89 votes to 27.