An Edinburgh-based blockchain specialist has partnered with a Scottish property firm to produce a one-of-a-kind database for tackling rising rents in the residential sector.
Tech start-up Wallet.Services has developed what is thought to be the first blockchain-enabled private rented sector (PRS) database, in conjunction with property letting portal Citylets, further strengthening Scotland’s position in the blockchain field.
It is hoped that the database will become a useful tool for local authorities applying to the Scottish Government for designated rent pressure zones within their area, as it will securely provide the relevant information sourced from letting agents.
Applications from local authorities must feature market evidence that supports excessive rent rises.
Wallet.Services has used its Siccar product, developed in conjunction with the Scottish Government, to create a database built on blockchain to store this data.
A blockchain is a secure digital ledger, best known as the foundation for Bitcoin cryptocurrency trading, which uses cryptography to store information.
Citylets founder Thomas Ashdown said: “Blockchain tech was chosen to put the dataset beyond reproach. It is a highly secure, immutable technology.”
The news follows a PwC report earlier this week that Scotland is leading the way when it comes to exploring the full potential of blockchain technology, largely thanks to collaborative projects.
Ashdown added: “The key here is trust. We are a private company looking to create a ledger of the rent changes experienced by the tenants of Scotland that can be utilised by all stakeholders within the private and public sectors.
“Ultimately, we anticipate this will become a resource for local councils who have new powers to apply for rent pressure zones but lack the data to underpin applications to the Scottish Government.”
Rab Campbell, chairman of Wallet.Services said: “This project addresses a data transparency issue that has been thrown up by legislation passed in the Scottish Parliament.
“It improves trust and data quality on a matter that affects a significant minority of people in Scotland and that spans the public and private sectors.”
Since 1999, the number of households in the Scottish PRS has tripled to 370,000, according to the most recent Scottish Household Survey.
Mike Campbell, director of the Council of Letting Agents, the largest agent membership body in Scotland, said he welcomed this “exciting and important development” addressing the lack of comprehensive data on PRS rents.
He said: “With the prospect of rent pressure zones on the horizon and the ongoing debate around affordability and role the PRS plays in the housing system as a whole, it’s more important than ever that this happens on an informed and agreed basis.”