Landlords claim strengthening of tenant rights could 'decimate' rental market

Landlords are claiming potential changes to rules around evictions will ‘decimate’ the rental sector and lead many to sell their homes.

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The Scottish Association of Landlords and Scottish Land and Estates both urged MSPs to block the provisions in the Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) (Scotland) Bill during stage three proceedings on Tuesday.

If passed, the Scottish Government bill will strengthen some tenants rights in regards to eviction, particularly those facing rent arrears.

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The organisations representing landlords claimed, however, that this would in effect mean every attempt at eviction would have to be decided by a first tier tribunal.

They said this could lead to one in five landlords leaving the sector, “decimate” the value of property held by landlords, and mean landlords may not be able to sell a property to fund retirement or to free up capital to invest.

John Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords, said he was making an appeal to MSPs to “think again” around the bill.

He added: “There is a tried and tested eviction process which already works well and protects tenants and landlords.

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"There is a very real danger that if this goes ahead landlords will lose confidence and simply sell homes at a time when they are in great need.”

Landlords are warning new legislation could decimate the rental sector.Landlords are warning new legislation could decimate the rental sector.
Landlords are warning new legislation could decimate the rental sector.

Sarah Jane Laing, chief executive of Scottish Land and Estates, whose members rent around 3,000 homes in rural Scotland, said the consequences of the legislation had not been “thought through”.

She added: “Whether you are a landlord with a single buy to let flat or someone with multiple properties, the prospect of not being able to regain possession of the home you own scares landlords, driving them from the sector and reducing availability of homes for tenants.

"The Scottish Parliament should take a step back and look at this again in further detail.”

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The bill is expected to pass on Tuesday following the consideration of further amendments due to the SNP and Green co-operation agreement.

One such amendment is expected to come from Scottish Labour MSP, Mercedes Villalba, who is calling for an emergency rent freeze.

She said on Twitter: “On Tuesday I will bring a vote on an Emergency Rent Freeze to Parliament. No MSP apart from the Tories has disputed the principle.

“And as legislators, we can overcome any technical concern. This is something every progressive should support, whatever their Party.”

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In November, Scottish Government figures showed rent in Scotland has grown well above inflation since 2010.

In the Lothian region the cumulative rise has been 41.7 per cent with Greater Glasgow seeing a rise of 41.4 per cent.

Inflation in the same time period has risen by 24.3 per cent between 2010 and 2021.

Average rents for a two bed property in the Lothian region is now £942 per month rising from £665 in 2010, with the Scottish average rising from £554 per month to £693 for a similar property in the same time period.

The Scottish Government was contacted for comment.

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