Shelter Scotland launches advice hub for private renters

Graeme Brown
Graeme Brown

A new online hub has been launched to help renters in Scotland’s private rented sector navigate their rights and responsibilities.

Launched by housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland, the Private Renting in Scotland resource comes after a rise in the number of calls to the charity’s helpline from tenants renting from private landlords.

In the last year (Feb 15-Feb 16) 5,343 calls were received by the charity’s helpline from households renting privately – 42 per cent of the total number of calls. During the same period in 2014-15 Shelter Scotland received 5,119 calls from private renters.

The charity says it is worried by the disproportionate number of calls from private renters, considering the sector represents only 14 per cent of all housing in Scotland.

In the last year, 18 per cent of all homelessness applications to Scotland’s 32 local authorities were from households who rent privately.

According to Shelter Scotland, 330,000 households currently rent from a private landlord in Scotland – around 85,000 of which contain children.

The charity says it has launched the Private Renting in Scotland online resource because it wants to ensure that tenants have the most up to date and accurate information available to them should they face problems in their tenancies.

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Despite only representing 14 per cent of all households in Scotland, 42 per cent of all calls handled by our free national helpline in the last year were from people renting privately.

“All too often we hear of people living in disrepair, being evicted or rents increasing unreasonably, forcing families and individuals into the disruptive cycle of having to move house - every six months in some cases - preventing them from ever being able to put down strong roots and being part of a community.

“We want private renters to have the right and access to long-term homes, not just short-term housing and this new hub is another step towards that goal.

“By informing tenants of their rights and responsibilities on a range of issues such as illegal evictions, deposit protection, rent rises and disrepair, we hope to work towards building a better and fairer private rented sector for all.”

According to Shelter Scotland, it is the current lack of security of tenure that is the biggest problem for the growing number of individuals and families that want to be able to call the private rented sector home. The forthcoming legislation from the Scottish Government in the Private Tenancies Bill aims to address this issue by removing the current ‘no fault ground for possession’ – which allows landlords to bring a tenancy to an end without providing a reason.

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