Private landlords clash with student union and Scottish Government over housing problem

The Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) has attacked the Scottish Government over ‘anti-landlord’ legislation which it says has left fewer properties available for students.

It comes after the National Union of Students (NUS) reported “intimidating landlords” and “sky-high rents” last week.

While recognising the serious problem Scotland’s housing sector has with student housing, the SAL said this has been caused by the Private Residential Tenancy (PRT) introduced in 2017.

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The organisation claimed this legislation has reduced the number of homes available to students as landlords have been unable to offer fixed-term leases which matched term times.

A queue of 30 prospective tenancy queue to view a flat on Morningside Road, Edinburgh.

Chief executive of SAL John Blackwood said the government must recognise the essential role private landlords play in Scotland’s housing sector and stop portraying landlords are exploitative.

He said: “We are just beginning to see some of the consequences of the hostile anti-landlord rhetoric from the government as landlords leave the sector in fear of planned rent controls and a total ban on evictions.

“The Minister for Tenants’ Rights (Patrick Harvie) must stop portraying the entire private rented sector as ‘exploitative’ and understand the essential role private landlords play in Scotland’s housing sector.”

The chief executive went on to warn of a shortage of properties available to rent over the winter which will increase pressure on emergency housing provided by the council.

Members of the SAL have reported a drop of 80 per cent or more in the number of properties available to let in the country, over the last two months. Last week, it emerged one flat in Edinburgh’s Morningside had received 626 inquiries in the space of a week.

Mr Blackwood said this shortage is being caused by landlords choosing to leave the sector since 2017 due to the new legislation.

He said: “We are hearing from members across Scotland of a chronic shortage of homes to rent and that they expect it to get worse 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 enquiries from hundreds of people looking for a home.”

Housing crisis driven by landlords, says NUS

The NUS has also warned that Scottish students are facing a housing crisis but say this has been driven by “intimidating landlords” not government legislation.

Matt Crilly, the union’s president in Scotland has blamed lack of housing available on landlords and rising rents which have left students unable to find a home.

The government, in co-ordination with the Scottish Greens, has committed to a housing bill in the second year of the parliamentary session.

This will follow the publication of a strategy paper around the rental market, and will be joined by a fresh rent control system for local authorities to implement.

The NUS say this new strategy may not go far enough towards helping create affordable student housing that is properly regulated.

But the SAL argue that these proposals are predicted to force even more landlords to leave the short-term rental market and intensify the problem.

The Scottish Government was contacted for comment.

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