Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to back Labour’s plans to cap private rent increases.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard raised the issue of rising rents in the private sector at Holyrood, calling on the First Minister to “side with tenants, tackle poverty, and back our Mary Barbour Bill”.
Mr Leonard has announced plans to bring forward the legislation to cap and control rent increases in the private sector.
Although Ms Sturgeon expressed neither support for nor criticism of the plan, she said the Scottish Government would continue to “lead from the front” to improve housing.
Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Mr Leonard argued that under 20 years of devolution, the private rental sector has “trebled in size and rents have soared while wages have stagnated”.
He said: “Over 40% of all children living in the private rented sector in Scotland are now living in poverty – that’s 60,000 children.
“Over the past 15 years, a private-rented home has become the only housing option for an increasing number of families right across Scotland.
“Housing costs are eating into people’s incomes and year-on-year rents are going up.
“The average rent for a two-bedroom home in Greater Glasgow has increased by over 30% in the last decade. In Lothian, the increase is by over 40%.
“These increases are driving more and more people into poverty.”
In response, Ms Sturgeon said “child poverty rates are too high in Scotland, not just in the private rented sector but across our society”, but she claimed her Government is “delivering record numbers of affordable and social housing”.
She added: “We have introduced legislation to reform the private rented sector. For example, the policy that has just been announced for consultation south of the border, getting rid of no-fault evictions, is something this Government has done and implemented.
“Rent pressure zones was the way forward, we will continue to look at whether that is appropriate and satisfactory and where further action is required we will consider taking that further action.”