Concerns that thousands of private landlords are unaware of laws

James Battye
James Battye

Shelter Scotland has raised concerns that thousands of private landlords may be operating without full knowledge of their legal responsibilities.

Summarising the first year’s work of two successful pilot projects supporting private landlords in the Highlands and Dundee, the charity said it has uncovered hundreds of people renting out homes who don’t know about the rules that apply to them in these two areas alone.

Funded by the Oak Foundation, the projects aim to raise standards for private renters in Scotland. The proportion of households renting privately has nearly tripled in size since 1999 and now provides homes for 350,000 Scottish households including 91,000 families with children.

During the year the Private Landlord Support Officers provided information and guidance in 542 cases and found most of the landlords they helped rented out just one property. It also found many of them had become landlords through a change in their own circumstances such as having to move from their own home for work or inheriting a property.

In the majority of cases they were keen to comply with the legislation and at times to go beyond what was required to be a good landlord.

James Battye, Shelter Scotland private renting project manager, said: “It is reasonable to believe that what we have found in Dundee and the Highlands may well be true across Scotland. That means there could be thousands of landlords who don’t have a full grasp of their legal responsibilities. Shelter Scotland’s Private Landlord Support project has highlighted this gap in support for inexperienced landlords and is creating a template for services that would benefit them and their tenants in the future.”

He added: “As the private rented sector expands in Scotland it is quite rightly being asked to become more professional, particularly as it is providing homes to vulnerable groups such as children and those living below the poverty line. Many landlords are finding themselves ill-equipped for managing housing for people in relationship, health or financial crisis.”

Shelter Scotland will continue to provide the Private Landlord Support Service in the Highlands and Dundee until March 2018 with financial backing from the Oak Foundation. In Dundee the private landlord support officer is based within Dundee City Council while in the Highlands the support officer is hosted by Lochaber Housing Association.

Invaluable support is provided by both local authorities enabling the projects to reach people on the landlord register.

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