‘Vast majority’ of Dundee’s private homes would fail to meet new government standards

Bruce Forbes

Bruce Forbes

Angus Housing Association director, Bruce Forbes, has likened some properties in Dundee to slums and claimed many homes will not meet new Scottish Government standards.

In an article in the Evening Telegraph, Mr Forbes, who’s worked for nearly 40 years in housing including with local authorities, said a “vast majority” of private lets in Dundee wouldn’t meet guidelines for “a good basic standard of accommodation” contained in the Condition of Private Rented Housing in Scotland report.

He said: “In Dundee, the private-rented sector is a real mixed bag, ranging from really good-quality stuff, which will easily meet the standards, to the slums like some of the stuff in Dundee city centre and the likes of Albert Street.

“I would guess that most — probably the vast majority — of the private sector housing won’t come anywhere close.

“There is no realistic way the private rented sector will get anywhere near this without huge public subsidy. Virtually none of the older tenement stock in Dundee will meet this standard unless it has been modernised very recently.

“The other big area of private lets are former right-to-buy council houses and, again, I suspect that most of this would fail.

“The cost of improving the standard of homes is also going to be huge. It costs AHA around £5,000 per flat to insulate and install new heating in a Victorian tenement flat to meet the standards.”

John Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords, insisted the new guidelines would “drive rogue players out of the sector” but added: “We must also be realistic and acknowledge that in some circumstances these standards cannot be easily met without some kind of joined working with others.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said the standards would ensure people had access to “high- quality, affordable and sustainable housing”.

A Dundee City Council spokeswoman said “positive progress” was being made in the private rental sector, adding: “Dundee City Council works with project managers Shelter Scotland, which secured three years of funding from the Oak Foundation.

“The aim is to improve standards in the private rented sector and in particular to target those landlords who are inexperienced or unaware of the range of legislation affecting the sector.

“In the first year alone 331 cases were dealt with, involving 600 hours of casework.”