July 7, 2020 Blog

Save the Fair Rents Bill

Over the last year, I have been working hard with support from Mike Daily at the Govan Law Centre and the research team at Scottish Labour to draft the Fair Rents (Scotland) Bill. This has been widely dubbed the “Mary Barbour Bill”, as it builds on the radical Labour tradition of opposing unfair rents, and honours the pioneer of the 1915 Glasgow rent strike.

But last week, SNP and Tory MSPs on Holyrood’s local government committee joined forces to block the Bill from progressing further. Now Scottish Labour is calling on the Scottish Government to adopt the Bill itself.


The private rented sector accounts for three times the households it did in 1999. The Bill seeks to protect those tenants from exploitative rent increases. To that end, it builds on the 2016 Rent Pressure Zones legislation, which theoretically exists to do the same thing. The Rent Pressure Zones however have been wholly inadequate at achieving that goal. My Bill also importantly adds the new provision of factoring the condition of the property into the rental price. Too often substandard accommodation is priced far beyond its value due to its location or a lack of local alternatives.

Our existing housing crisis is severe and will be made far worse by the fallout from Covid-19. Scottish Labour will continue to campaign on rent controls and serious housing reform and I would appreciate your support in getting this Bill heard at Holyrood.


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