Scottish landlords warn of winter housing shortage

Scotland’s largest membership organisation for private rented sector (PRS) landlords and letting agents has warned of a shortage of properties available to rent over the winter, increasing pressure on emergency housing provided by councils.

The Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) says their members are reporting drops of 80% or more in the number of properties available to let, in just the last two months.

SAL says the shortage is caused by landlords choosing to exit the sector over the past few years because of the threat of disproportionate regulation and a misunderstanding from some in government of the vital role played by the overwhelming majority of private landlords within Scotland’s housing mix.

This week saw complaints from students’ groups about the dire lack of properties to rent, which SAL attributes to an unintended consequence of the Private Residential Tenancy (PRT) introduced in 2017. That legislation reduced the number of homes available to students as landlords were no longer able to offer fixed-term leases which matched term times.

SAL is calling for an open discussion about the correct size of the PRS in Scotland and for a massive increase in social housing, which would lead to a corresponding re-balancing of the size of the PRS.

John Blackwood, SAL chief executive 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.

At the same time, we are seeing huge jumps in the cost of buying a house and with limited supply and increased demand in the PRS, many people will be left with nowhere to live, inevitably putting massive pressure on emergency housing supply as well.

We are just beginning to see some of the consequences of the hostile anti-landlord rhetoric from the Scottish Government as landlords leave the sector in fear of planned rent controls and a total ban on evictions. The Minister for Tenants’ Rights must stop portraying the entire private rented sector as “exploitative” and understand the essential role private landlords play in Scotland’s housing sector.”