Nurses call for rent controls to improve health and combat housing crisis 


Motion coincides with tenants movement in Scotland calling for full rent controls 

LOTHIAN NURSES want action on sky-high private sector rents to help NHS staff find accommodation in the areas they provide hospital care, and to reduce damage to public health caused by poor housing. 

Delegates at the College of Nursing conference will face a debate on the proposal to support rent controls, proposed by the trade union’s Lothian branch. 

Members of the UK-wide organisation, meeting in Glasgow from 18-22 June, can vote to “lobby governments of the UK to introduce rent controls”.

Community nurse Geoff Earl, Lothian branch officer, quoted in The Herald, said: “There are huge areas now where it has become very difficult to rent accommodation including some areas of Glasgow, but particularly Edinburgh and Aberdeen. This is affecting recruitment of nurses in those areas.”

The news is the latest boost for tenants’ rights campaigners, who have called for greater action to reduce rents, improve the quality of housing stock, and provide greater security for occupants in the sector. 

The Living Rent Campaign – which successfully persuaded the Scottish Government to introduce rent controls (albeit limited and only locally applicable through an application process) – is this year launching as a membership organisation to champion the rights of tenants in the private rented sector. 

Rent costs – especially in urban hotspots – have soared well beyond increases in average incomes, meaning charges are increasing pressures on vulnerable families, and forcing occupants into poverty. 

Campaigners ask the SNP: 'What happened to rent controls?'

The motion to the College of Nursing also highlights the dangerous impact poor quality rented accommodation has on public health. 

The motion states: “Housing is one of the major determinants of health. The quality of housing impacts on health, as does tenure, with private occupiers usually exhibiting better health than renters. Rent regulation could improve the wellbeing of vulnerable households by increasing the amount of money available to spend on other items such as food and clothing.”

The Private Housing (Tenancies) Act was passed at the end of the 2011-15 Scottish Parliament session, and will lead to moderate improvements in tenants’ rights. 

The SNP spring conference called for further action through a “national system of rent controls”. 

The Scottish Green party and the Scottish Labour party already support the full Living Rent policy.

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Picture courtesy of Faculty of Medicine