Simplified residential tenancies are now being introduced in Scotland but experts warn that more needs to be done to maintain supply in the private rented sector and attract more investment.
Scottish Housing Minister Margaret Burgess said the changes outlined in the Private Tenancy Bill will give tenants greater security and stability in their home and community. ‘It will also give landlords reassurance that their tenants will treat their listing as a long term home, rather than somewhere temporary,’ she pointed out.
‘The private rented sector is changing. It is now home to a growing number of people in Scotland, and we recognise there are some areas where rents are increasing significantly. It is right and responsible to give local authorities the ability to introduce rent controls in order to ease areas under pressure,’ she added.
The Scottish Association of Landlords said there while there is a broad agreement that the rental regime in the private rented sector needed to be modernised as part of a drive to increase standards and protect tenants, there are concerns that it could harm investment in a sector which is said to have a key role to play in solving Scotland’s long term housing crisis.
‘We have particular concerns about measures such as rent controls, as well as removing the right of a landlord to end a lease naturally, subject to a reasonable notice period,’ said SAL chief executive John Blackwood.
‘While we understand the political pressure to tackle rent rises in hotspots such as Aberdeen and Edinburgh, we are concerned these measures could harm investor confidence and drive landlords out of the market, leaving a vacuum that could be filled with less than scrupulous individuals,’ he explained.
‘The way to reduce rent levels in a sustainable manner is to increase housing supply, not punishing landlords that are investing tens of thousands of pounds in their listings,’ he added.
According to Scottish Land & Estates the sector also needs to attract new investment, especially in rural areas. Its members are at the forefront of supplying rural housing across the country, many at affordable rents, and the organisation said there were many positive elements to the Bill but that certain elements could impact on rural housing supply.
‘We welcome the degree of clarity that the introduction of the Bill has provided and we can see that there are many positive elements to the government’s proposals. The simplification of the tenancy regime is something that we have long argued for and it is pleasing that the Scottish Government has made a concerted effort to address the need for reform,’ said Katy Dickson, policy officer for business and listing at Scottish Land & Estates.
She explained that the introduction of a single notice to leave system, with robust and reasonable grounds on which to end a tenancy is to be welcomed, and increased notice periods will hopefully address many of the concerns regarding security and certainty raised during the consultation.
‘As we have pointed out throughout the consultation process, the removal of the no-fault ground for repossession would leave a significant gap where landlords may struggle to deal to remove tenants, especially where there are issues of anti-social behaviour that affect both the landlord and neighbouring listings,’ she said.
‘We hope the new system will address these concerns but we will need to study the Bill in more detail over the coming days. In particular we hope that the progressive repossession grounds for rent arrears cases will actually deliver an effective measure for the many landlords who routinely face this issue,’ she added.
The organisation also wants to see a new regime that delivers for these issues and Dickson said there is disappointment that the ground to recover possession because the listing is required for an agricultural worker is not included.
‘The Scottish rental sector has long faced issues with high demand, low supply and problems enforcing the current legislation. We hope the current legislation will not reduce supply or exacerbate the lack of investment in the sector,’ she concluded.
But homeless charity Shelter Scotland said that the new legislation is the biggest move forward in private tenancy law in the last quarter of a century and should rebalance the relationship between tenant and landlord.
‘The abolition of no fault eviction is a very big step forward and, combined with a flexible and secure tenancy, it will help families in particular put down roots in their communities and help people to stay in their home for as long as they need,’ said its director Graeme Brown.
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Source: Property News Spain