Landlords in last minute appeal to prevent legislation that could ‘decimate’ provision of rented homes
Housing organisations have today made an 11th-hour appeal to Scottish parliamentarians to step back from making new laws that they argue threaten to devastate the number of homes for rent.
The Scottish Parliament is to debate the final stage of the Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) Bill on June 28 which includes plans to give tribunals the final say on tenant evictions.
However, organisations which represent landlords renting thousands of homes in urban and rural areas believe the measure will shatter confidence in the rental sector and lead to large numbers of homes being withdrawn from the market.
At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a moratorium on evictions, except in special circumstances approved by a tribunal. This Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) Bill seeks to make this change permanent and a tribunal would be asked to rule on every instance where a landlord has legitimate reasons for ending a tenancy, including non-payment of rent.
According to the Scottish Association of Landlords, NFU Scotland, the National Trust for Scotland and Scottish Land & Estates, for those landlords who want to sell their rental property perhaps to fund retirement or to free up capital to invest in other areas of business, then not being able to end the tenancy will significantly reduce the value. Property professionals estimate that this could decimate the value of a property and up to one in five landlords could withdraw from the market.
The groups have warned that although the proposals are intended to offer greater protection to a very small number of tenants facing eviction, they will backfire on a far greater number of people looking to rent homes at a time when homes are in short supply.
John Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords, said: “We are appealing to our parliamentarians to think again over these proposals. There is a tried and tested eviction process which already works well and protects tenants and landlords. There is a very real danger that if this goes ahead landlords will lose confidence and simply sell homes at a time when they are in great need.”
Sarah Jane Laing, chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates, whose members rent around 3000 homes in rural Scotland, said: “This is a prime example where the consequences have not been thought through. Whether you are a landlord with a single buy to let flat or someone with multiple properties, the prospect of not being able to regain possession of the home you own scares landlords, driving them from the sector and reducing availability of homes for tenants. The Scottish Parliament should take a step back and look at this again in further detail.”
A recent report by RentBetter, a three-year research programme funded by the Nationwide Foundation on private renting in Scotland, stated that legislation affecting the private rented sector had a ‘disproportionate impact on lower income and other demand groups in housing need’.
The group said in its April 2022 report: “In relation to the PRS supply, there are clearly unintended consequences of layer on layer of regulation from different legislators on different things – tax, tenancy law, climate change, Coronavirus legislation. As legislators in Scotland plan to introduce more regulation, they should consider the findings of this research and the potential negative impact on supply and access to the PRS.
“Reduced supply and access to the PRS will have a disproportionate impact on lower income and other demand groups in housing need, compared to the general PRS population. Strong and targeted enforcement should be prioritised to mitigate market failures at the lower end of the market.”