Comment on the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill from PRS 4 Scotland

Commenting on the publication of the Scottish Government’s Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill, Dr John Boyle, spokesman for PRS 4 Scotland said:

“The Scottish Government’s desire to improve Scotland’s Private Rented Sector is to be commended, and there are a number of features in the Bill that we can support to create more secure tenancies. However, the Bill will raise a number of alarm signals. In particular, the focus on rent caps and a one-size fits all tenancy is likely to deter the investors the sector needs and the devil will be in the detail of the final legislation. What we need going forward is clarity on key questions.

“Already investors and landlords will be concerned that the Bill leaves discretion for individual local authorities to set the level of rent caps, and this could lead to precisely the type of long term uncertainty that we know deters investment in housing stock. Moreover, with local authorities making decisions on rent controls based on average area wide prices, we risk deterring the types of high quality build to rent development that improves urban place making. Regrettably, the popular cry for rent controls has clouded the truth about the rental market. Rents are not universally going up; in former hot spots, such as Aberdeen, they are now decreasing. Where rents are rising, such as in Edinburgh, supply is tight and demand exceptionally high. The debate has been hampered by the lack of definitive data on Scotland’s PRS and this needs to be corrected before the Bill progresses.

“Landlords and tenants in the student market will be particularly worried by the apparent removal of any ability for students to take a 10-month lease, and there will be a knock on negative effect on short term holiday lets too. It is clear that the intention of the Bill was not to hammer students and Edinburgh’s festivals as well as investors in student accommodation, but that is what is likely to happen. Other features, like the removal of no-fault possession, will need to be worked on further, both before the Bill is passed, and through test cases of the Tribunal, which will need to be extremely well resourced from the outset.

“We remain encouraged that everyone can and will unite behind the desire to increase the supply of good quality housing for rent. The goals are the same, to create a sustainable PRS for all income groups, but evidence suggests that rent controls and limited choices for tenancies will not get us to where we want to be.”

Notes to Editors:

PRS 4 Scotland includes agents, landlords, portals and investors leg principally by DJ Alexander, Rettie & Co, Lettingweb, Citylets, LetScotland and Braemore and has been established in response to the Scottish Government’s consultation into a new tenancy regime for the Private Rented Sector.

For further information, or to arrange an interview with a PRS 4 Scotland spokesperson, please call Peter Smyth, Indigo, 0131 554 1230.