Adam Lang: Private rented sector needs reform

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AT Shelter Scotland we fight against homelessness and bad housing and campaign to prevent it in the first place. That means tackling the issues wherever our clients experience them. Increasingly, that is in the private rented sector (PRS).

That’s why we have launched our Make Renting Right campaign, joining forces with a range of people to reform, modernise and improve Scotland’s growing PRS. So far, 77 MSPs and 29 organisations from across Scotland have already signed up to support Make Renting Right.

There are now 312,000 households who call the PRS home – including more than 80,000 families with children, a number that has doubled in the last ten years. That’s why we need to make sure the sector works for everyone.

But short-term tenancy agreements do not provide the stability and security that families need to live a settled life. All too often we hear of people being moved on, evicted or rents increased unreasonably, forcing them into the disruptive cycle of having to move house – every six months in some cases – and preventing them from ever being able to put down strong roots and being part of a community.

So we are campaigning for a PRS that is modern, stable, flexible, predictable and fair for all families and individuals that now call it home.

But there are around 100,000 different landlords in Scotland with varying operating practices ranging from exceptional to extremely poor. Legislation in the past few years has started to regulate and tackle some of the sector’s poor practice, but there is much more to be done – especially regarding reform of the tenancy system. Make Renting Right is asking for a modern tenancy agreement that gives both tenants and landlords security and more stability for people wanting to make rented housing their home. We want flexibility for people who want to stay in their home to do so for as long as they want, a fair system for sorting out renting problems and predictable rents for tenants and landlords.

The benefits of reform would not just be felt by tenants, however. Landlords too would see a more constant and predictable income, with less downtime between rents and a more stable relationship with their tenants.

We are working constructively with partners in the landlord sector who are also committed to reforming and improving the PRS to make sure it works for everyone.

It is really encouraging to see housing – and especially private rented housing – high on the political agenda in Scotland. Find out more and sign up to our campaign via: www.shelterscotland.org/makerentingright

Adam Lang is head of communications and policy at Shelter Scotland