FOLLOWING the release of new research (1) which suggests the private rented sector has almost doubled in size in less than five years – increasing by 98 per cent – the Scottish Government needs to be ambitious and bold in reforming the rental sector, making it fit for the increasing number of families renting privately, according to Scotland’s leading housing charity.
Responding this week to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the private rented sector (PRS), Shelter Scotland says the continuing growth in private renting means the government should not hold back in modernising the rental sector for the benefit of both tenants and landlords. It also says that Scotland should take lessons from countries like Germany when creating a PRS strategy fit for families in the 21st Century.
Private renting has grown significantly over the last 20 years and forecasts suggest it will play an even bigger role in housing families with children in the future. According to the charity’s research more families with children are living in the PRS with 17 per cent calling the sector home in 2010, compared to only seven per cent in 1999. The charity also says more households are likely to stay in the private rented sector for longer periods of time.
Meanwhile, Shelter Scotland figures show that 31 per cent of callers to their free national helpline in the last year were families and individuals who rent privately, whereas they represent only 11 per cent of all households in Scotland.
By 2020, one in five UK households is expected to rent privately. Today, 272,653 families and individuals in Scotland class the PRS as home.
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, says:
“Every day we hear from families and individuals facing problems while renting in the private rented sector. They tell us that today’s rental sector is not meeting their needs and aspirations. Equally, landlords tell us that they too are facing problems because some tenants are not aware of their responsibilities.
“We believe that the time is now for Scotland to rebuild a private rental sector fit for the 21st century, one based on the foundations of security and fairness. Reform should focus on better information and access to advice for tenants and landlords, security of tenure and a speedier and less bureaucratic way of dealing with disputes. Better regulation of the sector would also allow responsible landlords to thrive and allow firm action to be taken on those other landlords who undermine the reputation of the sector.
“We want to see a form of private renting that can offer a home, with all that implies – dignity, security and stability.”
In its response to the government’s consultation the housing charity recommends the government focus on increasing consumer confidence in renting by driving up standards, cutting red tape to resolve disputes quickly and fairly and offer stability and security of tenure to families and individuals who cannot afford, or do not wish to get onto the property ladder.
Commenting on the lessons Scotland can learn from the German-model, Graeme Brown added:
“In Germany more people rent than own their own homes. Renting is seen as a normal and long term choice, with landlords equally seeing investment in rented property as a long term investment.
“Tenancies are usually for unlimited time periods and there is also strict regulation against prohibitive rent increases and rent levels. Germany shows us that regulation and a thriving rental sector can go hand-in-hand.”
Notes to Editors:
1. Latest findings from lettings portal Citylets suggest the private rental market has almost doubled in size in less than five years. The portal’s latest Quarterly Report, issued on 23rd July shows a 98 per cent increase in the number of households renting privately. Read it here.
2. Shelter Scotland’s Consultation Response ‘A Strategy for the Private Rented Sector’ can be found, here.
3. Shelter Scotland provides expert support services, online advice and a free national helpline for everyone facing housing and homelessness difficulties. For advice and support visit http://scotland.shelter.org.uk or call 0808 800 4444.
4. Spokespeople are available for interview – call the media office on 0844 515 2442. An ISDN line is available for broadcast interviews.
5. Follow Shelter Scotland on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/shelterinscotland Twitter – http://twitter.com/shelterscotland
Shelter Scotland believes everyone should have a home. We help people find and keep a home. We campaign for decent housing for all.