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Don’t demonise private rented sector, urge Scottish landlords

As Scotland awaits the introduction of the Private Tenancies (Scotland) Bill later this week, the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) has urged the government not to 'demonise' the private rented sector.

The long-awaited Bill is expected to include measures to restrict the ability of landlords to end a tenancy, as well as a form of rent controls. 

The SAL says it is paramount that the new legislation protects tenants’ rights without strangling investment.

It has emphasised the need for balance between protecting tenants and ensuring landlords are encouraged to invest in property and help solve Scotland’s strategic housing crisis.

The SAL also describes some of the measures as 'short-term' and 'populist'.

The organisation has called on the Scottish Government to involve private landlords in new-build programmes and attract institutional investors to provide funds for new houses for the private rented sector.

“Measures such as heavy-handed rent control will only endanger investment and drive respected businesses out of the market, leaving the door wide open for rogue landlords and letting agents,” says John Blackwood, chief executive of the SAL.

He says the private rented sector has a key role to play in solving Scotland's long-term housing crisis.

“SAL hopes that the Scottish Government doesn’t become fixated with short-term political measures and demonise landlords but, instead, work with us to solve the larger problem of Scotland’s housing crisis.”

This week Scottish property portal Citylets published its latest quarterly report which shows that despite the possible introduction of rent controls, average rents are falling in several Scottish locations. 

The national average rent in Scotland has fallen from £762 per month in the summer to £757, with annual growth slowing from 5.4% in the previous quarter to 2.9% in the latest report.

Aberdeen is experiencing an annual rental drop of around 6.7%, the portal says, while in Edinburgh, however, annual growth sits at 7.5%. 

"Aberdeen now represents a clear example of how the Scottish private rental sector can self regulate. With so much concern in the investor community in relation to rent controls, the Scottish Government must surely want to consider whether the intended benefits outweigh the risks at this time," says Thomas Ashdown, Citylets' founder. 

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    Well said John Blackwood.

    However I think we all have little to no faith in the Scottish Government to be sensible about this.

    In my opinion most of the problems highlighted in the press are few and far between in Scotland. This does not make it right, but its not a massive problem is the point I am making.

    The Scottish government have an opportunity to be sensible about this and realise the vital role that private landlords play; but we are all too aware that they say they "listen" through consultation papers etc, but we all know they don't and push things through that goes against the consolation paper.

    For any government ministers looking in... I have yet to meet a landlord that "evicts" a good tenant. Despite all the rubbish pedelled by Labour, Landlords would give a rent reduction for a respectful tenant that sticks to a tenancy agreement and wants a longterm rent. Further, most landlords are not "rich" and most do invest in their properties.

    I have no confidence in this Scottish Government to do the right thing.

  • Tom  Harrington

    I don't blame Blackwood for being fearful of these rent controls. All I see it realistically doing is discouraging those from investing in property in the area, and I only hope that this will not be rolled out across the country.

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