A new English law banning retaliatory evictions in the private rental housing sector can pave the way for similar targeted legislation in Scotland, a rural membership organisation has said.
Scottish Land & Estates, which represents rural businesses across the country – including landlords supplying affordable rural homes - said retaliatory evictions by a few irresponsible landlords had damaged the reputation of the sector.
The organisation said there was a need for a similar approach from Scottish politicians to ensure tenants are not evicted for registering genuine complaints about housing conditions but in doing so, urged Holyrood to acknowledge that the majority of landlords are responsible and should not be severely hampered by new legislation.
Katy Dickson, Policy Officer (Business and Property) at Scottish Land & Estates, said: “Both the English and Scottish private housing sectors are facing issues with high demand, low supply and problems enforcing current legislation. This has resulted in irresponsible landlords acting as they please and bringing down the reputation of the whole sector.
“The Scottish Government has also been looking at making changes to improve the situation. Not only are they working on regulating letting agents, enhanced enforcement areas and energy efficiency minimum standards but they have also consulted on a whole new tenancy regime. Our members, who represent the main providers of rural rented homes, support the moves to improve the current regimes to provide high quality homes, but also hope MSPs exercise caution and do not harm good landlords as they seek to regulate irresponsible ones.
“In our response to the consultation on a new private sector tenancy, Scottish Land & Estates has suggested a solution to the current rental issues that is very much in line with what has been deemed the most appropriate way forward south of the border. This targeted tool would in our view be much better for the sector than a blunt instrument which could affect supply.
“Organisations such as Shelter maintain there is an issue with people not feeling able to report required repairs due to the fear of eviction. We have seen little evidence of this but accept that it could be the case in a small minority of cases.
“We have listened carefully to this viewpoint but it could be addressed without sacrificing the current good work and provision of housing - or damaging the prospects of attracting much needed new investment to the sector. The mechanism to end a tenancy after the initial period would remain but would not stand if it was used as a result of the tenant notifying the landlord of repairs and this report was not appropriately dealt with.
“It is not too late for the Scottish Government to understand that in trying to secure people’s homes by removing the so called ‘no fault ground’ they will create the unintended consequence of losing - and certainly not growing - the number of those homes available to rent. Whilst we are generally considered to be in the midst of a housing crisis, driving private landlords out of the sector will only exacerbate the situation further thus reducing much needed housing supply.”