Call for cross-party housing plan as demand soars
A letting agent has called for a cross-party commitment to build more homes, particularly in the rental sector, after a surge in demand for accommodation.
Scotland’s largest letting agent, DJ Alexander, received 39,400 viewing requests during July for rental properties in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The firm, which has almost 10,000 properties under management in Scotland, said that this level of demand is unprecedented in its 41-year history.
Founder and CEO David Alexander is concerned that the situation will get worse unless there is a significant increase in the supply of homes to the rented sector.
“Over the last few years we have seen demand for properties in the private rented sector (PRS) increase substantially but over the last year it has grown exponentially,” he said.
“These viewing enquiry numbers would have been unheard of four or five years ago, but we now regularly have hundreds of people applying for each property with only a limited numbers of places becoming available resulting in little prospect of finding homes for all of these individuals.”
His comments follow a series of cancelled or suspended investments of build-to-rent and social housing projects by investors and construction companies following the Scottish Government’s rent freeze.
Mr Alexander added: “A solution to this problem needs to be found if we are not to witness growing discontent from tenants and a substantial increase in the level of homelessness.
“What is required is a coordinated, cross-party approach which encourages investment and growth in the private rented sector, increased levels of house building, and a long-term increase in the volumes of social housing being built to ensure that, although the situation is chronic at present, we don’t allow it to become acute in the future.
“Only by applying a broad-based approach will we be able to resolve this serious lack of availability in both the private and social rented sectors.
“By consulting widely with builders, planners, property investors, landlords in both the social and private sector, letting agents, and tenants we will be able to create a market which is large enough and flexible enough to cope with increasing demand in the future.”
He concluded: “This is not a problem which can be resolved in one or two years but requires planning for the next two decades and which encourages investment in Scotland, acknowledges the vital role that the private and public sector play in providing long-term rental accommodation, and is committed to ensure that everyone can find a suitable home in our country.
“This will involve discussion, compromise, and negotiation but it is clear that the status quo is not working and that a coordinated, well managed, and structured approach to the supply of suitable homes is needed immediately.”