Harmony required

Time to stop ‘demonising’ private rented sector

Private rented property are a key part of the housing mix, says David Alexander

Scotland’s property market would be best served if there was greater recognition of the private rented sector, according to a lettings agent.

David Alexander of DJ Alexander said that too often there has been an “antagonistic approach” to the private rented sector which undermines the service it provides.

He said there is “great concern” that the Scottish Government consultation paper ‘New deal for Tenants’ mentions rent controls and was launched without a supporting quote from any landlord organisation or letting company.

“Rent controls have never worked anywhere in the world and invariably lead to higher rents for new tenants and fewer properties on the market resulting in more housing shortages in the medium to long term,” he said. 

The latest Scottish Housing Survey published in 2019, reveals that 14% of the Scottish population (around 340,000 households) live in the PRS. This has nearly trebled since 1999 when just 5% of the population lived in privately rented homes.

Over the same period the percentage of Scots living in social housing has declined from 32% in 1999 to around 24% in the latest period (roughly 590,000 households). The remaining 62% are owner occupied properties.

Mr Alexander said: “Demonising the PRS will not resolve Scotland’s housing problems and, if anything, it is likely to make it worse. The private rented sector is an essential part of housing provision in Scotland. What always seems to be forgotten is that many thousands of people choose to live in the PRS because of their lifestyle, location, convenience, and simply because it suits them.

“Legislators need to be wary of playing to the gallery in producing the simplistic argument that private renting is bad while social housing is good. Both parts of the rented sector, along with owner occupiers, serve differing needs of the population and you interfere with these systems at your peril.”

Mr Alexander added: “The fact that the PRS has grown significantly over the last 20 years is important and reflects tenants voting with their feet and moving into properties where they want and can afford to live. That social housing has declined by a comparable amount over the same period simply reflects changing demands in society.”

Edinburgh sees record £1m+ homes

Edinburgh now has more than 5,000 homes worth more than £1 million following a dramatic leap in property prices in the city in the past 12 months. 

Of the three areas researched in newly-published The Macgregor Report, the West End leads the field with over 15% rise in prices during 2021; the New Town sees over 8% and Stockbridge over 6%.

The number of properties in the capital city that are now valued at £1m+ is now at its highest level at 5,050, an increase of 8% on 2020. 

Leading the way in pound per square foot for prime central streets are Ann Street (£703/sq ft), Darnaway Street (£613/sq ft) and Belgrave Crescent (£591/sq ft).

Michael Hodgson of MacGregor Property said: “When we started trading in the middle of lockdown 2020, we had no idea what was in store for the Edinburgh property market, however since restrictions have eased we have seen huge growth in the Edinburgh market as local, national and international buyers increasingly prioritise lifestyle and quality of life – making Edinburgh a highly desirable place to live.

“The appetite for high end flats and houses in the centre of the city is quite unbelievable, with many of these properties selling within days of going on the market.”

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