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Politicians make landlords feel like pariahs in society - claim

Red tape and a hostile attitude towards landlords from government is fuelling Scotland’s housing crisis, experts warn.

John Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords, claims some property owners are being made to feel like “a pariah in society”.

He blames “mixed messages” and “anti-landlord rhetoric” from ministers in the Scottish Government for deterring investment, leading to property owners leaving the market.


Blackwood says on the Scottish Housing Podcast - a new show exploring issues facing first-time buyers, homeowners and tenants - that there needs to be a re-set in relationships between government and landlords under new First Minister, John Swinney.

Blackwood adds that some landlords feel unwanted because of “politically motivated” policies such as rent controls.

Another podcast guest - John Boyle, director of research and strategy at agency and consultancy Rettie - highlights the political risk confronting the Build To Rent market due to rent control plans, citing them as a hurdle to institutional investment. 

The rent cap initially imposed by the Scottish Government to alleviate cost-of-living pressures came to an end on April 1. While landlords can still propose rent increases under transitional measures, tenants have the option to challenge these hikes through an adjudication process. Any approved increases may be capped at 12 per cent.

The Scottish Government also recently published its Housing (Scotland) Bill, which includes plans to introduce long-term rent controls and grant tenants significant new rights. 

Speculation is mounting over the future of the bill following the change of First Minister and the removal of Green Party rent control architects Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater from government positions.

Blackwood says Scottish politicians privately acknowledge the private landlord market is “part of the solution” to the nation’s housing problems. But he adds: “The trouble is, ordinary landlords out there in the street who are operating small landlord letting businesses, they are not hearing that from their elected members. And actually, it's quite the opposite.

“They hear an anti-landlord rhetoric that comes from our politicians. And that puts them off, stops them from investing. It makes you feel that actually we're not wanted. We should actually actively be exiting the sector, not investing in the sector.”

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  • George Dawes

    Now this guy gets it

    Id make him pm tomorrow


    He's our equivalent of your Ben Beadle but wee Patrick Harvie refused to listen to him.

    Personally I am sorry to see the departure of Humsalot Useless and his little Green helpers as their anti PRS policies have helped me increase my rents by 33% in 2023 after a similar 30% increase in 2018.

    It's always better if everyone recognises incompetence in opponents which makes John Swinney more dangerous as his reasonable behaviour and warm words hide a career of failure in his roles as Finance Secretary and Education Secretary.

    In the latter role he tried to impose "blended learning" after Covid lockdowns to appease the teachers who only wanted to teach every third week after months at home on full pay. He quickly backed down when he saw the outrage from parents who had been doing the teachers' jobs whilst trying to get their own work done in difficult circumstances.

    Incidentally many of the public sector palaces built after devolution are still only 25% occupied as our public servants continue to "work from home ".

  • John  Adams

    Nothing will change while you have the Media, Politicians and Higher Education pushing the whole evil landlord agenda.

    Why do they push this agenda? To deflect from their own failed policies and conning young people into studying for pointless courses that are not relevant to business.

    There is a problem with some Landlords who are nothing more than money grabbing crooks who don't comply with regulations but they do get caught and fined, but the media blow them out of all proportion to the vast majority of landlords who run a professional business.

    I don't see anything changing.


    Well said John. They are landlord bashing quite simply to cover their own failure to build more social housing for a population that has dramatically increased over the last decade.


    Why hasn’t the paper written by Robert Jenrick published by the Centre for Policy Studies not had sufficient exposure in the media? Nor has it been aired for discussion on Landlord Today. I believe it gives another reason for the chronic housing shortage.
    Meanwhile if you want to read this paper google Robert Jenrick’s paper.

  • icon

    Landlords have become the scapegoat for decades of poor housing policy & lack of building. Eventually the powers that be will realise that LLs did not cause the mess we are in, but by they many more will have left. Tenants are going to bear the brunt of this miscalculation :(

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    Not only in Scotland!! Makes me laugh when councils are begging landlords to hand over their properties. One minute you are the scum of the earth and the next, they want you to do them a favour. Jog on.

  • icon

    John, there is jobs for them, young people are being churned out of Universities fully qualified anti-landlord brain washed computerised Inspectors that I have learned to my cost of thousands.

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    Mr Blackwood is correct . Maybe he should be replacing Ben at the NRLA .

  • Nic  Kaz

    Great points, but it’s not the rhetoric that got me selling - it’s the lack of trust that my investment won’t be further corroded, legislated against or effectively sequestered in the near future. That’s why investors are shy of BTL, despite the lure of high rental returns in a shrinking market.

  • icon

    Anyone would have to be crazy to make any investment in the PRS. I assume the politicians are hoping the Corporate’s Build to Rent sector is the answer.


    They are supporting them at our expense, I think.

    This "Conservative" government has been described as corporatist, rather than capitalist.


    I am neither buying or selling currently but I have just spent several months increasing the capacity of two properties which previously had a marginal justification to do so.

    I've spent under £10k converting a former 2 bed flat into a 3 bed HMO which will now have a payback of well under 2 years. However it's now over 2 months since my HMO inspection but still no word on the licence being granted so it lies empty in the midst of a housing crisis as I refuse to let it to two tenants without the certainty of adding a third as soon as possible.

    I've also spent under £40k adding 2 bedrooms in a loft conversion which will take about 3 years for payback but will have added more than £40k to its value. Again Council jobsworths have done their best to hold this work up, quibbling over a 1.95 metre ceiling height on the landing, when regulations demand 2 metres, marginal shortfalls on floor space with over 1.5 metre height in sloping rooms with bags of space for beds in the space under 1.5 metres high etc.

    I have two other properties with potential to add a further bedroom with some internal modifications but have further hoops to jump through with them under new building regulations whereas similar modifications were safely done in other flats some 10 to 20 years ago with no adverse effects.

    Clearly box ticking trumps solving the housing shortage for our masters!

    • A S
    • 10 May 2024 10:29 AM

    Ellie - I made the same point a few days ago. Traditional capitalism is dead, corporatism is taking over. And it's not just the Conservatives, Labour exactly the same.

    That's all fine, society and culture moves on over time, always has done, however democracy is dying with it and that is something to be very fearful of.

  • George Dawes

    Ive just improved my properties with the help of a bulldozer and a case of lager


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