More research required for Rent Pressure Zone application
In order for Highland Council to consider applying to Scottish Government for a ‘rent pressure zone’ designation in the region; more research and local dialogue is required – councillors were informed today (30 May) at Care, Learning and Housing Committee.
Highland Councillors were updated on the implications of Section 35 of the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 which enables local authorities to apply to Scottish Ministers to ask that all or part of their authority's area be designated as a rent pressure zone.
The Highland Council meeting in October 2017 had agreed that the Council should examine and report back on the feasibility of applying for a rent pressure zone for Inverness and any other community in Highland facing similarly expensive rents.
At the Council’s Care, Learning and Housing Committee today, David Goldie, Head of Housing and Building Maintenance updated Councillors on Section 35 and its potential implications for the Council, he said:
“The application process and criteria involved for achieving designation of a rent pressure zone are rigorous and will have resource implications for the Council.
“Applications require a firm evidence base. However there is no local or national reporting or existing published data on the evidence required. The guidance implies that evidence would need to be established through specific local research, with the emphasis on face to face contact / interviews with tenants affected.
“It is unlikely, based on the rent data published at broad housing market area level, that evidence would support a rent pressure zone for the whole Council area. Further detailed evidence will be required to consider more local applications.”
Cllr Andrew Baxter, Chair of the Care and Learning Committee said: “I thank David and his team for the research and work they have done so far and the committee notes that it will take time and resources to develop the evidence base to support applications in Highland, and that there is no specific budget provision for this.
“Councillors are however, in agreement that the Council should continue dialogue with other Councils, COSLA, and Scottish Government officers in developing a common approach to research and data collection that would support successful applications for Rent Pressure Zones.
Councillors also agreed that discussion take place locally with Ward Members, where requested, to discuss specific local issues of affordability in the Private Rented Sectors that might help in identifying specific locations in which to target evidence gathering in future.
Further updates will be provided to Councillors as work progresses nationally.