The Scottish Government is set to extend the temporary private sector rent freeze for a further six months, but what does this mean for the buy-to-let sector? 

Tenants' Rights Minister, Patrick Harvie, announced the move on January 2023 and while it is still subject to parliamentary approval, it is likely to be passed. 

The Cost of Living (Protection of Tenants) (Scotland) Bill was passed in the last parliamentary term to stop landlords from raising rents during the cost-of-living crisis with most rents frozen until the end of March 2023. 

The measures will now be extended until September 30 2023, with the option for a further six months extension still on the table. 

However, the rent cap will rise from 1 April 2023 – landlords will be able to increase in-tenancy rents by up to 3% (in the initial bill, this was set at 0%). 

Harvie said: "With many households still struggling with bills, it is clear that these protections are still needed to give tenants greater confidence about their housing costs and the security of a stable home. 

"While the primary purpose of the legislation is to support tenants, I recognise that costs have been rising for landlords too.  

"That's why we intend to allow those in the private sector to increase rents by up to 3%, with a continued safeguard allowing them to apply for larger increases to cover specified rising costs they might be seeing as landlords." 

Who does it apply to? 

The rent freeze applies to private residential tenancies, assured tenancies, and short assured tenancies in Scotland.  

 It doesn’t apply to:  

  • New tenancies (because you can set the rent from the start of the new tenancy)  
  • Common law tenancies  
  • Regulated tenancies under the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984  
  • Some assured tenancies where the contract sets out rent increases 

What does this mean for landlords? 

Scottish landlords can’t increase their rent until 31 March 2023 but from 1 April it can be increased from up to 3%. 

However, there are some exceptions. Private landlords will only be allowed to raise rents by a maximum of 3% but they can apply to Rent Service Scotland to increase the figure to 6% if they have a valid reason such as additional property costs. 

Examples of property costs include: 

  • Mortgage interest payments 
  • Landlord insurance 
  • Service charges relating to your rental property that are contractually worked into tenants' rent.

What about student lets? 

The rent cap for student accommodation will also be suspended and unlawful evictions will still lead to damages equivalent to 36 months' worth of rent. 

What about evictions? 

Similar to the rules that were in place during the pandemic, the Bill will not prevent landlords serving a notice to leave or notice of proceedings. Landlords will still be able to make an application to the Tribunal or the Sheriff Court, and the Tribunal or Court will still make a decision on whether to issue an eviction order. However, there will be a delay in the eviction order being enforced by Sheriff Officers. 

Where a landlord is prevented from enforcing an order for eviction while the moratorium is in effect, the enforcement of that order can only be delayed for a maximum period of six months.  

What does it all mean? 

Nicky Lloyd, ESPC’s Head of Lettings, says: “It is welcome news that landlords will be able to increase rents by a maximum of 3% from 01 April 2023. This gives confidence to buy-to-let investors who may have been cautious about joining the rental market.” 

“If you need advice on the new legislation, our experts at ESPC Lettings will be happy to help.” 

You can read more details on the legislation on the Scottish Government website or contact ESPC Lettings for insights on how this may affect you. 

Buy-to-let event

Are you thinking of beginning or expanding your buy-to-let portfolio? We will be joined by property experts, mortgage advisors, tax specialists and lettings professionals at our buy-to-let event on 23 February.

Our event will begin with an introductory talk and overview of the market by ESPC Head of Lettings, Nicky Lloyd, before you get the chance to speak one-to-one with industry experts. Sign up here.

Date: Thursday 23 February
Time: 5:30pm-7:45pm
Location: 107 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 3ES

ESPC Lettings  

If you’re interested in entering the buy-to-let market or are a landlord looking for advice, a new letting agent or a full property management service, ESPC Lettings can help. As a letting agent based in Edinburgh, we can assist with all stages of renting out a home, from finding the right property to sourcing tenants to property maintenance.  

Get in touch with the team today on or 0131 253 2847. 


Listen to our podcast episode: Buying-to-let in 2023