'Don’t demonise private rental market' warns top Scottish property expert

Demonising the private rental sector (PRS) threatens to undermine its essential role in Scotland’s housing market, a property expert has warned.
David Alexander is urging greater harmony in the housing market in 2022. Picture: Laurence WinramDavid Alexander is urging greater harmony in the housing market in 2022. Picture: Laurence Winram
David Alexander is urging greater harmony in the housing market in 2022. Picture: Laurence Winram

David Alexander, chief executive of DJ Alexander Scotland which recently became part of the Lomond Group, said there has too often been an antagonistic approach to the sector within the wider property market.

He pointed out that according to latest figures. 14 per cent of the Scottish population - around 340,000 households - live in the PRS properties and the figure has nearly trebled since 1999. Over the same period the percentage of Scots living in social housing has declined from 32 per cent in 1999 to around 24 per cent in the latest period - roughly 590,000 households - with the remaining 62 per cent being owner occupied properties.

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Alexander made a plea for more “harmony” in the housing market in 2022 and a recognition that homeowners, the PRS and social housing are not disparate sectors, but all have their roles in providing homes for the people of Scotland.

“Demonising the PRS will not resolve Scotland’s housing problems and, if anything, it is likely to make it worse. The private rented sector is an essential part of housing provision in Scotland,” he stressed.

“What always seems to be forgotten is that many thousands of people choose to live in the PRS because of their lifestyle, location, convenience, and simply because it suits them,” he pointed out.

“Legislators need to be wary of playing to the gallery in producing the simplistic argument that private renting is bad while social housing is good. Both parts of the rented sector, along with owner occupiers, serve differing needs of the population and you interfere with these systems at your peril.”

Alexander said he was concerned over the possibility of rent controls being introduced in Scotland.

“Rent controls have never worked anywhere in the world and invariably lead to higher rents for new tenants and fewer properties on the market resulting in more housing shortages in the medium to long term,” he said.

“The fact that the PRS has grown significantly over the last 20 years is important and reflects tenants voting with their feet and moving into properties where they want and can afford to live.”

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