Private landlords give cautious welcome to Scottish Labour Housing Commission
The Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) has welcomed the Scottish Labour Party’s Housing Commission report but warned that knee-jerk regulation could prevent the goals of the commission being delivered.
As Scotland’s largest membership organisation for private landlords, SAL has welcomed key elements of the report of the Scottish Labour Party’s Housing Commission published last week, particularly the emphasis on relying on data to shape policy and the strategic importance of the private rented sector in solving the housing crisis.
However, SAL sounded a note of caution on any rush to enforce rent controls for the sector before being clear on where and how these powers would be used and to what strategic purpose.
Labour said the plans will put people before developers’ profits, and put housing and in particular public sector led-development at the forefront of the country’s politics.
The party said it will end the crisis of undersupply, unaffordability and quality through increased investment, new legislation and a new government agency to drive housing supply across Scotland.
As part of the proposals, Labour will review minimum space and quality standards in new housing and reform the existing law to allow public interest-led bodies to acquire land at existing use-value.
Labour said it would also increase the supply of affordable homes by 70% compared to the Scottish Government’s current commitment.
Recommendations also include a scheme to help under 35s purchase their first home and a commitment to creating more wheelchair accessible homes across the country.
John Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords, said: “We welcome the constructive approach Scottish Labour adopted in developing these proposals. In particular, I want to thank Pauline McNeill MSP for engaging with us in a positive manner and acknowledging the positive role of the private rented sector in Scotland.
“The Commission’s proposals on the need for stronger enforcement of the rules governing the private rented sector is something we have consistently called for in the past and we welcome any move that will improve the current situation. Only with effective enforcement will we create the effective, professional private rented sector we all want to see.
“We also welcome the clear focus on the need to ensure policy is shaped by real data rather than ideology or anecdotal evidence. This is particularly important when considering the possibility of expanding the current powers around Rent Pressure Zones. SAL has consistently stated our opposition to rent controls being imposed without clear data on current rent levels across the country.
“SAL welcomes the contribution of the Commission’s report to the debate and looks forward to continuing that engagement, as well as with all other parties, to ensure the private rented sector plays an active role in solving the challenges the Scottish housing sector faces.”