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40% of tenants worried about availability

More calls for investment in private rented sector

To letMore evidence has emerged of the need for greater investment in Scotland’s private rented sector.

In the biggest ever survey of tenants more than 40% said they would find it difficult to find a suitable alternative home.

The latest research from Scottish agency Lettingweb is adding to calls for more government action to help expand the private rented sector which has already doubled in size in the past decade. It is also being used to counter “myths” about private landlords charging rip-off rents, and government moves to impose new rules.

Homes for Scotland, the body representing housebuilders, recently hired an industry veteran to encourage more investment in the sector.

Lettingstats – the research arm of Lettingweb – says the findings will challenge preconceptions amongst politicians and housing sector interests.

The research discovered that in the main tenants are happy with their agreements and the relationships they have with landlords. Rent increases in the private rented sector have been below inflation for more than eight years, and below those in the social rented sector.

But 42% of respondents said they were concerned that they might not find another home if they needed to do so.

Dan Cookson, Head of Research at Lettingweb, said“The overwhelming picture is that rents are unlikely to rise during leases and that landlords treat their tenants well. The private rented sector can be proud of their ability to supply good property at a price tenants are willing to pay, and increases have been less than inflation for a period of over eight years.

“The stand out figure for me is that only 42% of tenants are confident of finding alternative rented accommodation if they had to. That’s a consequence of limited supply, and more needs to be done to bring greater investment into the sector to meet that demand.

“Government needs to respond by creating conditions for increased supply to come forward.”

Malcolm Warrack, Chairman of Letscotland said: “This is a very significant survey – the largest ever conducted across the UK. As the Scottish Government moves towards legislating for a new type of tenancy agreement for use in the private rented sector, they must listen to the voices of tenants, who are overwhelmingly well served by landlords and letting agents.

“The challenge must be to implement change in a way which increases the supply of rented accommodation reaching the market. Any reforms brought forward must not lead to reductions in supply, which will only lead to rising rents and problems for prospective tenants.”

6,448 private sector tenants in Scotland took part in the survey and the key findings are:

  • over 35% of tenants surveyed had lived in their current home for longer than a year – with 10% living longer than three years
  • over 80% believed their tenancy had been managed quite well or very well by their landlord or letting agent
  • almost 88% of tenants believed they had been treated fairly during their current tenancy
  • over 86% reported that there had been no increase in rent during their tenancy – with over 90% believing the frequency of rent reviews being reasonable in their experience
  • almost 95% had never been asked to leave a tenancy for an unexplained or unreasonable reason
  • tenants are concerned by the lack of supply of properties to let – with only 42% being confident of finding another suitable home if they had to

The latest figures show that the average rent for a 2-bed property in  Glasgow fell from £680 in the previous quarter to £662 in Autumn. The average rent for a 2-bed property in Edinburgh fell over the same period from £826 to £809. Dundee also experienced a cooling over the quarter, with average rent for a 2-bed property dropping markedly from £571 to £545 per month.

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