Landlords press for action over rent-dodging ‘louts’

Landlords are petitioning for a national tenants database
Landlords are petitioning for a national tenants database
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MSPS are being urged to back a register of “blacklisted” tenants in an effort to crack down on rent-dodging “louts” who set up in properties and won’t leave.

One disgruntled landlord has now lodged a petition at Holyrood to press for action and is backed by the country’s national organisation for landlords, which says the problem affects people living in neighbouring properties.

Gerry McLellan says the government must strengthen the legal means to evict tenants and ensure landlords can recover any money owed.

“Too many people are now suffering due to lazy louts who truly believe they are entitled to move into other peoples’ properties, trash them, stay as long as they want and refuse to pay any money,” his petition states.

He is now calling for clear guidelines to be put in place to ensure speedier convictions along with a national database of previously blacklisted tenants.

He added: “Landlords are now required to register. Tenants should be afforded the same courtesy.”

The Scottish Government introduced new legislation to crack down on rogue landlords in 2004, and about 175,000 landlords have signed up to a registration scheme that includes a “fit and proper person” test.

He says that a “large number of tenants” have “overstayed their welcome by a considerable period of time” in his properties.

“Something seriously has to be done to put an end to this kind of behaviour,” he added.

The appeal for action has the support of the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL).

Director John Blackwood said: “It has certainly become a lot more difficult for landlords to properly check out their tenants, and you just don’t know who you’re taking on.

“It’s difficult to find out their true background and you can end up with someone in your property who stays there, doesn’t pay you any rent, potentially trashes the place and there’s very little you can do 
legally about it.

“So if there’s something in place like a tenants’ register, where landlords have vouched for them, then that’s something that would be an advantage.”

Mr Blackwood said these cases represent worst-case scenarios, but are not that unusual.

He added: “You also have to think of the neighbours living next door. Often these people are engaging in anti-social behaviour and the landlords are completely powerless to deal with it.”

It is currently illegal in Scotland to charge tenants a reference fee, but the government is now consulting on the prospect of allowing these charges, which would make it easier for landlords to check out who they are renting their property to.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said its national strategy for the private rented sector will be published later this year: “As part of this, we will examine measures to help landlords and communities deal with tenants in the private 
sector who engage in anti-social behaviour,” she added.