Market shock

‘Anti-landlord rhetoric’ sees loss of 22k homes for rent

The number of rental properties has fallen sharply (pic: Terry Murden / DB Media Services)

Political hostility towards residential landlords has been a key reason why an estimated 22,000 rental properties have been removed from the market in Scotland in the past year, according to research.

The Scottish Association of Landlords accused Holyrood ministers of “harming investment in private rented housing in Scotland”.

A survey of its members, published by PA Media, revealed that they had removed an average of 6.4% of their properties from the sector last year. If replicated across the sector, it would amount to 21,760 homes.

More than eight in ten (83%) said they had removed homes from the sector because of a “perceived hostility towards landlords from government/politicians”.

Three-quarters (75%) expressed concern about rent controls, with a similar number (74%) saying increasing regulation in the sector was a reason.

The association said the fall in the number of available properties to let was the biggest factor behind rent hikes, and was worsening the shortage of homes across the country.

It survey found more than half (56%) of landlords were planning to reduce their portfolios during 2024 – up from 44% in the previous year.

The Scottish Government brought in legislation to introduce a rent freeze in 2022 in response to the cost-of-living crisis and fewer than one in ten landlords (9%) are now planning to take on more properties, compared to 13% a year ago.

These rent freeze measures, which are due to end this April, were later relaxed to allow landlords to increase rents by 3%, with this rising to 6% in some circumstances.

Tenants’ rights minister Patrick Harvie plans to temporarily change the rent adjudication process until 1 April 2025.

This will allow landlords to charge rent increases of 6 per cent or less, provided the total rent is not more than market value. However, Scottish Landlords Association chief executive John Blackwood said the situation in Scotland was “causing significant harm” as it was “reducing supply and driving up costs for tenants”.

Mr Blackwood said: “Landlords have been warning for the past few years that the combination of anti-landlord rhetoric along with short-term, ineffective policies are harming investment in private rented housing in Scotland. These chickens are now coming home to roost as landlords lose confidence and are choosing to exit the sector.

“This is reducing supply and driving up costs for tenants and causing significant harm. We have already seen a number of councils point to landlord exits as a reason for increased pressure on their own housing stock and this will only continue in the future.”

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