Results 41–60 of 2876 for speaker:Alex Johnstone

Scottish Parliament: Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 (17 Mar 2016)

Alex Johnstone: I have concerns about amendment 5. I understand what the minister said and the amendment’s purpose, but I am concerned that it may have unforeseen circumstances. I ask the minister to explain a couple of key things in order for me to not oppose the amendment. First, has the amendment been properly thought through to ensure that there are no potential unforeseen circumstances or potential...

Scottish Parliament: Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 (17 Mar 2016)

Alex Johnstone: I will pass on this group, Presiding Officer.

Scottish Parliament: Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 (17 Mar 2016)

Alex Johnstone: I support amendment 8, and I will explain briefly why. During the evidence that was taken on the bill, it appeared that the three months’ rent penalty that was stipulated in the bill at stage 1 was inadequate as an appropriate punishment for some of the actions that may be taken by landlords. That evidence supported a stiffer penalty, so the six months’ rent penalty that will now be...

Scottish Parliament: Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 (17 Mar 2016)

Alex Johnstone: The inclusion in the bill of rent pressure zones is one reason why I will oppose the bill at decision time. It is a fact that Patrick Harvie and I will never agree on how market forces operate in a marketplace. I believe strongly that, if a rent pressure zone is designated, it will create an investment vacuum in an area where we can least afford it. As a consequence, I oppose the zones per...

Scottish Parliament: Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 (17 Mar 2016)

Alex Johnstone: On hearing Patrick Harvie describe the way in which his amendment might function, I was almost—but not quite—tempted to support the idea. The ground on which I do not support it involve the fact that we have a Government that conducted two detailed consultations with the industry and, in the end, saw only what it wanted to see. I suspect that the requirement for the Government to report...

Scottish Parliament: Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 (17 Mar 2016)

Alex Johnstone: It is of significant concern that the opportunity for a family member to take up residence and to end a tenancy on that basis will become a discretionary rather than a mandatory ground. I would ask if the minister could possibly explain in her winding-up speech the reason for the change. Was any evidence taken from stakeholders to influence the decision on why a landlord should have a...

Scottish Parliament: Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 (17 Mar 2016)

Alex Johnstone: The purpose of these amendments is to reintroduce the initial period. I believe that the Scottish Government’s stage 2 amendment to remove the initial period was an ill-thought-out overreaction to stage 1 lobbying. The private rented sector tenancy review group advised that there should be an initial period and, at the consultation stage, that proposal received 76 per cent support,...

Scottish Parliament: Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 (17 Mar 2016)

Alex Johnstone: I am afraid that the case was made for the initial period early in the process, and that had strong support across the board. A specific set of circumstances was drawn to the committee’s attention that could be addressed by eliminating the initial period, but there were alternative routes, and the loss of the initial period takes away predictability and stability from the landlord-tenant...

Scottish Parliament: Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 (17 Mar 2016)

Alex Johnstone: I can see why the Government wants to make the proposed changes, and I can see that they are justified, but amendments 38 to 41 will produce an extraordinary degree of complexity. However worthy the amendments’ objectives are—many of the objectives are worthy—on reading through the proposed new sections, I have grave concerns that the Government is simply creating a legal minefield that...

Scottish Parliament: Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 (17 Mar 2016)

Alex Johnstone: Is it the minister’s intention to ensure that private sector tenancies are indistinguishable from social tenancies, or is there an understanding on the part of the Government that there is a difference between the two?

Scottish Parliament: Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 (17 Mar 2016)

Alex Johnstone: I have often criticised the Government for introducing measures late in the legislative process but, in this case, it is not the Government that is to blame. As Jim Eadie said, we have not had the chance to consider the amendments. However, I am prepared to express an opinion on them. I understand the objective that lies behind the amendments. Indeed, I would like the private rented sector to...

Scottish Parliament: Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 (17 Mar 2016)

Alex Johnstone: Working backwards, I will discuss amendment 58 first. I am not convinced that I understand what advantage there is in replacing the phrase “on the open market” with “for market value”. In fact, I have discussed that with one or two people, who are worried about how “market value” might be established and prefer the “open market” wording as being more practical. David...

Scottish Parliament: Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 (17 Mar 2016)

Alex Johnstone: I suspect that we will be okay on that pre-emption. I apologise for shouting no on the previous vote when I should have kept my mouth shut. I was thinking about this group. I begin my comments on the group by offering the minister a great deal of praise, because this is the subject on which we got the most effective and constructive movement from the Government at stage 2. There was grave...

Scottish Parliament: Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 (17 Mar 2016)

Alex Johnstone: I believe that privately built and funded student accommodation has created a revolution in the provision of high-quality accommodation for students. The business model on which much of that investment is based depends on the ability to house students and to use the properties effectively at other times of the year to generate a return. As a result, students who wish to take up student...

Scottish Parliament: Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 (17 Mar 2016)

Alex Johnstone: I thank Adam Ingram for the explanation of his amendments, which are proportionate and appropriate. We will support them, along with the minister’s amendments. Amendment 1 agreed to. Amendment 53 moved—[Margaret Burgess]—and agreed to. Amendments 2 to 4 moved—[Adam Ingram]—and agreed to. Amendments 54 to 57 moved—[Margaret Burgess]—and agreed to. Schedule 3—Eviction grounds...

Scottish Parliament: Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 (17 Mar 2016)

Alex Johnstone: Amendment 107 is a duplicate of one of a small group of amendments that I lodged at stage 2. Those stage 2 amendments covered a range of matters that I believe should be grounds for eviction. However, I have brought back only one of those at stage 3, because I believe that it is the most important one and one that we need to better understand. That ground is that the property is required for...

Scottish Parliament: Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 (17 Mar 2016)

Alex Johnstone: I am afraid that this a classic case of individual experience colouring attitudes. I simply repeat that I do not believe that the proposal would necessarily lead to people being unnecessarily evicted. I believe that the bill will lead to houses in areas where housing is much needed simply being left empty rather than being let by their owners, who will fear that they will not be able to have...

Scottish Parliament: Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill (17 Mar 2016)

Alex Johnstone: I have reached an interesting point in the passage of the bill. I said at stage 1 that it was not possible for me to support the bill then but that I could envisage supporting it later. Sadly, it seems that the bill as introduced was as good as it got. On day 1 of the period for lodging amendments for stage 2, 150 Government amendments landed on the doorstep. The effect was that stakeholders...

Scottish Parliament: Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill (17 Mar 2016)

Alex Johnstone: I remind the member that I took a very careful position on the matter and, despite expressing concern, did not vote against it.


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