Private rental proposals could cut number of homes available for rent

Press Release

The number of properties available for private rent across rural Scotland could face dramatic cuts if Scottish Government plans to reform the sector proceed, a leading rural organisation has warned.

According to a recent survey of its members, Scottish Land & Estates (SLE), a rural business membership organisation, believes that 20% of the rental market across rural Scotland could be lost at a time when housing provision is needed more than ever. The Scottish Government’s plans, called A New Deal for Tenants may cause private landlords to withdraw from the market and potential landlords to be discouraged from renting their houses out to tenants.

In a recent survey of SLE members with private rented properties, many showed their concern about the eroding of landlord’s rights and the increased risk they faced in renting properties. The members who responded represented almost 3000 rural rental properties throughout Scotland.  21% of respondents to the survey stated that they had already reduced or were likely to reduce the number of properties available to rent in the private rented sector due to the government’s proposals.

The Scottish Government claims that A New Deal for Tenants is designed to strengthen the rights of tenants – something SLE agrees with – but a balance must be struck between the interests of property owners and their tenants. Those interests are, according to SLE, closely linked.

Commenting on the proposals, SLE’s Head of Policy Stephen Young said:

“We all want tenants to have safe, warm, well-services homes, and security of tenure. That must be our starting point. However, we are extremely concerned that the Scottish Government’s proposals make renting out homes too risky and untenable for landlords and that a fifth of properties could be reluctantly withdrawn from the rented sector at a time when there is an acute national shortage of housing, particularly in some parts of rural Scotland.

“We  need the Scottish Government to accept that nearly 15% of Scotland’s homes are privately rented and that the government has a responsibility to work with property owners to meet Scotland’s housing needs. In rural Scotland, the need to strike a balance is particularly important. Our landlord members pride themselves on the provision of high quality, affordable housing across Scotland. As the ‘New Deal’ proposals stand, we think that that careful balance has not been struck, and it could have serious unintended consequences.”

The New Deal for Tenants proposals are one part of a wider policy shift on housing in Scotland. The Scottish Government is also bringing forward changes as part of its Coronavirus (Recovery & Reform) Bill, which makes all grounds for eviction discretionary rather than mandatory. This could mean that landlords face the risk of being stuck with tenants who refuse to pay rent, with no guaranteed route to resolve the situation. Such a lack of control by landlords over their own property reduces its value and, once again, harms the vast majority of tenants who do pay their rent and act responsibly, by discouraging landlords from letting out their properties.

SLE’s consultation response makes the case for a much better balance between the rights of tenants and the rights of landlords, which are intertwined to the benefit of everyone.

 

Read SLE's consultation response in full