'˜Bullying' by private landlords in Scotland on the rise

Bullying and intimidating behaviour by private landlords were among complaints leading to a 23 per cent increase in cases dealt with by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) in the past two years.

Report also reveals multiple cases of failure to do basic repairs. Picture: John Devlin

The evidence, released today by CAS, also includes multiple cases of landlords failing to meet their legal responsibilities and refusing to do basic repairs.

CAS says the increase amounts to 24 cases every working day and is calling on the sector to meet its legal obligations and is urging tenants to stand up for their rights.

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One of more than 6,000 cases handled last year involved a woman living in a one bedroom flat where the heating is broken and where the unregistered landlord refuses to fix it. The landlord is also saying he will send friends round to evict her and dump her possessions. The client has been to the police about the persistent harassment.

Patrick Hogan, CAS spokesman, described the figures as a “shocking insight” into the worst corners of Scotland’s private rented sector.

“While most private landlords are responsible and doing right by their tenants, our evidence shows there are far too many who are not.

“In today’s economy many Scots can’t afford to buy their own home, and yet there is not enough affordable social housing for rent. So many find themselves in the private rented sector – often paying higher rents than they can easily afford.

“In publishing this evidence, we are calling on local authorities and the Scottish Government to re-double their efforts to monitor the private rented sector and crackdown on those who are giving it a bad name. We also call on all landlords to make sure they are doing right by their tenants.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “There are laws in place to ensure landlords meet their duty to repair and maintain any properties they let to tenants throughout the term of the tenancy.

“The Scottish Government is currently drafting statutory guidance for the local authorities which will promote targeted tougher enforcement against the minority of bad landlords.

“Recently local authorities have been given access to more robust powers.”