PROPERTYMARK’S Head of Policy and Campaigns Timothy Douglas has appeared before Scottish Parliament’s Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee following the publication of the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Bill.
Douglas told the committee Propertymark’s member agents have already seen a decline in the number of homes available for rent because of rising costs levied on their landlords, and warned any form of rent control in the short and longer-term will mean more landlords selling up and even fewer and lesser quality rental homes.
He told MSPs agents and their landlords had supported tenants through the hardship the pandemic presented and pointed to statistics from one member agent showing more notices to leave were being issued because landlords want to sell their property than as a result of tenant rent arrears.
Douglas said, “The data from one of our largest member agencies who manage just over 3,000 tenancies across Scotland shows in 2021 they issued 16 notices for arrears but 66 for landlords selling and in 2022, up until September, there were 18 for arrears and 69 for selling. Landlord selling notices are up from 33 in 2020. All roads lead back to supply and selling is one of the exemptions proposed in the legislation.
“It needs to be acknowledged that throughout the pandemic and beyond letting agents and landlords have worked extremely hard to maintain tenancies and keep tenants in their homes. For example a letting agent in Glasgow paused all rent increases, some landlords withdrew all rent charges or reduced amounts that were owed, and they have capped increases at five per cent for two to three years which they think is a reasonable response.
“Agents as a whole are not bartering on rent prices or offering to the highest bidder, they are checking at length a tenants’ affordability and trying to be accommodating and find solutions as best as possible.
“We must remember the environment in which private landlords are operating in: higher costs to buy-to-let through the additional surcharges that have increased; higher interest rates; higher tax on rental income; they can no longer offset interest mortgage costs; changes to the wear and tear allowance; the removal of mandatory grounds for possession; the impending energy efficiency costs. All these things are playing into the cost factor for private landlords going forward.”
Propertymark’s A Shrinking Private Rented Sector research found:
- The number of properties available to rent through letting agents in the month of March halved between 2019 and 2022.
- During the same four-year period, 94% of landlords who removed their property from the rental market did so to sell it.
- Over half of rental properties sold in March this year alone did not return to the private rented market.
Watch the evidence session in full at www.scottishparliament.tv/meeting/local-government-housing-and-planning-committee-october-4-2022