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Refugees - how on earth will we house them? asks top agent

A prominent lettings agent says politicians wanting an open door policy for refugees from Ukraine do not explain how they will be housed. 

David Alexander, the chief executive officer of DJ Alexander, says Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants no limit on the number of Ukrainians accepted into this country.

He says this is laudable but in Scotland the total number of new social housing completions for the 12 months to end March 2021 was just 3,785.


That was a decrease of 33 per cent on the 5,672 social sector homes completed in the previous year. 

Alexander says: “There is an understandable feeling among all of us of wanting to do something and as part of that all countries are accepting refugees to their towns and cities.

“The problem is that Scotland is woefully short of available accommodation … the practical reality is that there is very little spare capacity in any sector.”

And he adds that the latest available figures for Scotland’s waiting list - dating from 2019 - is 132,029 strong.

Alexander continues: “My own firm, for example, has just 64 properties available at the moment when we would normally have hundreds of homes to let at this time of year. In addition, we are expecting an enormous influx of EU citizens returning to work in Scotland this summer and we will struggle to house them if there is not a substantial upturn in properties available.”

And he concludes: “The problem, as it has been for some time, is that there are too few properties to rent on the market, and insufficient being built to meet the growing needs of the Scottish population. 

“I believe that it is only by having a frank and open discussion among all interested parties that we will resolve this issue in the long term. 

“The Scottish Government needs to ensure it engages fully with housebuilders and property developers, the private rented sector, and social housing in developing an appropriate strategy to ensure we have sufficient homes for Scots in the future. In this way we will create a property market which benefits everyone. In the short term I can only hope that as many Ukrainian refugees are found homes as quickly as possible.”

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  • icon

    Laudable? It's laughable.

  • icon

    Where will they be housed and who will be paying their rent, council tax, and utilities, not my problem, is that hard? well maybe having been a landlord for over 30 yrs and having had my leg lifted a good many times that's made me hard.

  • David Saunders

    So there is around 100,000 refugees from Ukraine heading our way and of course the government and Shelter will expect the PRS to step up to the mark and do its bit to help. Then after the crisis calms they can continue outlawing section 21, bring in evermore legislation and once again use Landlords as the whipping boys for all that is wrong.

    Theodor Cable

    The surely ain't getting any housing from me.....

  • icon

    Horrible dilemma quite frankly. As a landlord that's had to pay the price of government interference, together with the rest of you, my instinctive reaction is to say "get stuffed".
    Message to government - take your boot off the throat of the PRS, get realistic, realise that we're part of the solution, and we may listen.
    Continue your campaign against us, and you may not like the answer.
    Sorry, sitting on the fence on this one ...


    Couldn’t agree more. As I put it it’s like being asked for a favour off your mugger. If only they could see we aren’t the enemy and so many of us just want to do a good job and be fairly rewarded.

  • icon

    the government is very anti-landlord and will remain so Im getting out the social tenants I took on had no respect caused damage to the house and took a lot of my time and resources, so after 33 years have had it with the "game" sorry but well no not sorry should have done it years ago.

  • icon

    This government has been punishing the PRS for years !! And now wants us to provide housing which a number of us have either already sold, or are planning too (me included), talk about shutting the gate after the horse has bolted. When will we get politicians with an eye and policy for more than one term. They are totally useless.

  • George Dawes

    Since only 5% of the uk is actually built on why doesn’t one of the large landowners convert some of their open pastures to residential for the sake of charity ?

    Just a thought


    ALL land in the UK is either privately owned, Government / local authority owned, or in trust for charities and sustainability. Which one of these groups would you like to have their property rights taken away?

  • George Dawes

    The ridiculously false sentiment that the world has too many people is implicitly genocidal and extremely dangerous.

    Crowded major cities give us the false impression that there isn't enough space. This is maybe the biggest lie of all. In fact, you could house the entire population of the Earth into Texas at a population density of 27,000 people per square mile, which is roughly equivalent to the population density of New York City.

    Texas is a blip on the map.


    Jesus wept, it's not about space, it's about infrastructure, food, a roof over their head and finding a way to pay for it.
    What should we do? Give every Ukrainian family a plot of land and leave them to their own devices?

    That family need an income, the kids need a school, access to services, energy, healthcare etc etc. 43% of working adults pay zero income tax, and that figure has gone up in line with the 300% rise in immigration over the past 20 years.

    The irony of such a simplistic outlook when waxing lyrical about false sentiment is laughable.

  • icon

    George I agree with you there is no shortage of land in this country to build on. I am told more land is used as golf courses that is built on. The problem is planning and the greenbelt. I think the large landowners would love to convert some of their greenbelt land over to residential use but the greenbelt policy prevents them.

    In my area zoning for industrial use is one of the major limitations yet everyone knows that industry will not return to the West Midlands and if it did it would not want the type of industrial accommodation that exists. In the last two years I have had the planners stop me creating 68 units of accommodation on the grounds of industrial zoning yet previously some of the accommodation was used for residential!

    On the other hand we landlords should not knock the system as the shortage is creating enormous demand from which we benefit . It is a crazy system.

    Jim Haliburton
    The HMO Daddy

  • Ferey Lavassani

    One thing I do not understand is according to the Dublin Convention refugees should apply for refugee status from the first safe country they arrive. Bringing them here makes no sense unless you want to set up tents. This is not a temporary settlement. Experience shows that after the war ends, some remain and some have no where to go back to due to change of borders. What was Easter Ukraine two weeks ago, its western Russia.


    Rules are made then governments decide which ones they will break

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    George Downes you are not making any sense. Outside of London we have hills and mountains, very unsuitable for housing. Further we need to grow food to eat, its called farmland. You probably think food comes from Marks and Spencer ! Further we need land for reservoirs and sewerage works. You probably think water comes out of a tap and sewerage goes down the toilet.
    Refugees, they are going to rock up in your property with a heart rending story and overcrowd your property. You will be accused of overcrowding, but prevented from evicting them. !! And fined of course !!


    I think your last paragraph could well happen

    George Dawes

    Hills and mountains unsuitable for housing ?


    Ever been to San Francisco ? 🤦‍♀️

    50 hills and counting …

  • George Dawes

    Who’s this George downes geezer ?

  • George Dawes

    ‘ . You probably think water comes out of a tap and sewerage goes down the toilet.’

    I suppose where you come from it’s the opposite 🤦‍♀️

  • icon

    Another inane comment from George Downes.

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    Actually George Downes, in London you do actually drink what is effectively sewrage. Look up the Thames Conservancy.

  • George Dawes

    Agree , who is this downes guy ? Seems he’s got you hot and bothered 😂


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