Labour MSP and housing campaigner Pauline McNeill has launched a student charter in a bid to give Scottish student renters more rights.
The charter includes the belief that they should be encouraged to set up tenants’ unions and housing co-operatives, and that student rents should be subject to regulatory control through the Fair Rents Bill.
The Shadow Minister for Housing, Communities and Equality (pictured) is currently trying to get this Bill through parliament, which would cap rent rises at 1% above inflation and give renters protection against excessive or unfair rent increases.
Speaking in a Holyrood debate, McNeill asked Nicola Sturgeon how the Scottish Government planned to help students who will lose out financially on their accommodation costs as a result of the staggered return to universities.
She said: “Can the first minister continue to assure parliament that she will keep in contact with universities when students return to campus to take up university accommodation, to make sure they benefit from face-to-face teaching and are not in their accommodation unnecessarily and to ensure they got the financial support they need for their rent?”
Sturgeon replied that she would do this and agreed that students should be protected from any exploitative practices.
“It is really important that universities and accommodation providers discuss with students how they will not be disadvantaged,” Sturgeon said.
She added that there was already discretionary funding for students who found themselves in financial hardship.
“Students are among the many groups in society that have been impacted severely by Covid and it is absolutely right and proper that we do everything that we can to support them.”