A shortage of rental homes in Scotland this winter risks piling pressure on emergency housing provided by councils, a landlord industry body has warned.
The Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) say their members have reported an 80% drop in the availability of properties to rent in the last two months.
SAL say many have decided to leave the private rental sector (PRS), blaming the threat of “disproportionate regulation”.
They also say there is a misunderstanding from some in government of the vital role played by the majority of landlords.
Students ‘left homeless’ amid rental shortage
It comes after complaints from the National Union of Students in Scotland, who said hundreds of students were left with “nowhere to live”.
NUS Scotland accused some landlords of “increasing rent to profit from demand”.
They are calling on the Scottish Government to intervene, working with students’ associations and institutions to ensure every student has a home.
Long term, the students’ union is also calling for a student housing strategy and rent controls to improve student tenancy rights.
But SAL said the shortage was an “unintended consequence” of the Private Residential Tenancy (PRT) introduced in 2017 which ended fixed-term tenancies.
They said the legislation reduced the number of homes available to students as landlords were no longer able to offer leases that matched term times.
The group say an open discussion about the correct size of the PRS in Scotland is needed, as well as a “massive increase in social housing“.
No homes left despite ‘hundreds’ looking for place to live
John Blackwood, SAL chief executive said members had reported a chronic shortage of homes to rent, with the situation expected to worsen in the coming months.
“Landlords and letting agents are telling us of huge drops in the normal number of properties they would normally have available to rent, with some saying they have none at all left to let, despite inquiries from hundreds of people looking for a home.
“At the same time, we are seeing huge jumps in the cost of buying a house and with limited supply and increased demand in the PRS, many people will be left with nowhere to live, inevitably putting massive pressure on emergency housing supply as well.
We are just beginning to see some of the consequences of the hostile anti-landlord rhetoric from the Scottish Government
– John Blackwood
“We are just beginning to see some of the consequences of the hostile anti-landlord rhetoric from the Scottish Government as landlords leave the sector in fear of planned rent controls and a total ban on evictions.
“The Minister for Tenants’ Rights must stop portraying the entire private rented sector as “exploitative” and understand the essential role private landlords play in Scotland’s housing sector.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said they planned to invest £3.5 billion in housing during this parliamentary term.
Government commitment to rent controls
He added: “We recognise the important role of private landlords in Scotland’s housing mix and we regularly engage with their representatives. We will continue to do so as we progress work to deliver a new deal for tenants.
“Our aim is to ensure quality, affordability and fairness for everyone who rents a home, and we will continue to carefully examine any potential consequences of our proposals.
“Our commitments to introduce new rights for tenants and action on high rents represent significant change and we will ensure full consultation is undertaken to enable the right solutions to be developed.”