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Older Scottish renters face ‘catastrophe’ amid soaring bills

RISING rents could be “catastrophic” for older renters in Scotland, a charity has warned.

New research released today by Independent Age has found that 39 per cent of Scottish private renters live in poverty, up from 24 per cent a decade before. 

The charity says that older renters are “terrified” their rent could increase after the end of the current rent rise cap on March 31.  

First introduced in October 2022, the cap prevents landlords from increasing rents by more than 3 per cent each year.

In a survey involving 500 older renters, 81 per cent said they faced a rent rise of up to £50 a month in the last year.

One in five said they knew nothing about their housing rights.

The charity is calling for the Scottish government to ensure rent controls, and to establish a housing ombudsman to give tenants the power to challenge their landlords on poor maintenance. 

In the survey, 65 per cent said their homes were in a state of disrepair.

Issues with damp, heating and energy efficiency came up frequently, the charity said.

One person said that their house was “never warm,” adding: “There is a smell of damp in the winter months.

“There is a huge opening in the back wall where the boiler is located. The wind whistles into the flat.” 

Out of the respondents, one in 10 expressed discomfort in voicing concerns to their landlords, fearing potential negative repercussions.

One man said: “I know if I complain to my landlord, it will get me nowhere but homeless.” 

The charity said there has been a 23 per cent rise in older people experiencing homelessness in the last year.

Independent Age chief executive Joanna Elson said the lack of access to safe and affordable housing is a “catastrophe.”

The long-awaited Housing Bill is expected to introduce long-term rent controls.

Ms Elson said the bill “is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the Scottish government to make sure everyone has a home that is affordable, kept to a decent standard and free from the threat of eviction and homelessness.”

National Pensioners Convention general secretary Jan Shortt called for the introduction of legislation to delay evictions across Britain. 

“Landlords do evict older tenants and if they have no family to turn to are homeless in their later life.” 

“No-one should be homeless in the sixth-richest economy in the world.”

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