Affordability continues to be a concern for a number of renters north of the border, according to a fresh report from the Scottish Housing Regulator’s National Panel of Tenants and Service Users.
The report reveals that more than a third of members have experienced difficulties in affording rent, while over two-thirds are concerned about the future affordability of their rent.
Rent increases above the rate of inflation and changes to income, particularly through changes in benefits, are the main causes for concern, the report found.
The report, the third of four themed reports from the National Panel, which has around 425 members, is open to anyone who is a social housing tenant or uses social landlords’ services.
Michael Cameron, the Regulator’s chief executive, commented: “What is an affordable rent is a complex matter – local context and markets, the interaction with benefits and tax credits, trade-offs with fuel costs all add to that complexity.
“And all landlords are not starting from the same position on rent levels, and some may be able to increase rents at a higher level and keep them affordable.
“But the simple arithmetic is that, no matter the starting point, rents that increase above inflation are likely to become less affordable.”
The Regulator analysed landlords’ data from their annual returns on the Social Housing Charter and found that the average rent increase in 2018/19 was 3.7%, which is higher than the previous year’s level of 2.4%, and this was the highest level since monitoring began in 2013.
Four-fifths of landlords increased rent in 2018/19 at a rate above inflation.
The Regulator also found that more than four-fifths of landlords plan rent rises above inflation in the coming year.
Cameron added: “The level of rent increase will feature prominently in our assessment of the risk each landlord presents, landlords should be asking themselves whether they are doing everything possible to be efficient and drive costs from their business before passing costs on to tenants.”