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 EU returnees likely to be hit most be rent controls - claim

EU citizens returning to the UK following the disruptions of the pandemic and Brexit May be the biggest losers from rental reform, it’s been claimed.

David Alexander - head of Lomond Group-owned agency DJ Alexander - says that prior to the pandemic EU nationals made up 40 per cent of the tenants in the private rented sector in his own area of Scotland. 

It was essential that homes remain available for them when they return, he says, but he warns that some controversial proposals in that part of the UK threaten availability

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Some of the changes, such as the proposed rent controls outlined in the Scottish Government’s ‘A new deal for tenants’ - consultation on which ends later this week - are likely to result in the market shrinking and reduced availability of homes, Alexander claims.

He says the private rented sector fulfils an essential role in providing homes for EU workers who cannot access social housing and are unlikely to buy homes as the majority want to work for a limited time in Scotland before returning to their home countries.

Scottish Government data estimates that in 2019 - the latest pre-pandemic figures - put the official number of EU nationals in Scotland as 234,000 with the majority of these of working age.

Alexander says: “As the pandemic recedes, we will undoubtedly see the return of tens of thousands of EU citizens keen to live and work in Scotland. These individuals will be essential in revitalising the Scottish economy and filling many of the job vacancies which currently exist.

 

“For EU citizens the private rented sector is, effectively, their only option for finding housing and any action which reduces the number of homes available will limit the number of them wanting to return. 

“The knock-on impact on Scotland’s finances could be considerable with unfilled vacancies, companies unable to return to normal, and economic growth out of the pandemic restricted.

“As with all change it is the law of unintended consequences which inevitably prevails. Reducing the availability of homes for essential EU workers was not, I presume, at the forefront of the thoughts of the Scottish Government when they produced their consultation paper on the private rented sector, but the unfortunate outcome is likely to be that this group will be the most adversely affected by this change. 

“The further impact of the loss of these essential workers on the Scottish economy will also be an unintended consequence which will affect us all.”

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