10:03 AM, 21st September 2022, About A year ago 6
The housing crisis in the Scottish Private Rental Sector (PRS) is rapidly worsening, leaving thousands of tenants in a desperate situation as they are unable to find accommodation.
That’s the view of the Belvoir Group and the firm’s Andrew Jack, from Belvoir Edinburgh, said: “The current situation is incredibly difficult for tenants, and many of those looking to secure a rental property are feeling extremely frustrated and often left disappointed.
“As an example, we have received over 9,000 tenant enquiries in the past four weeks, which is unprecedented.
“We recently released two flats to the market, and within 48 hours had received over 1,000 enquiries for each of them from potential tenants.
“Not only is it logistically difficult to process 2000 enquiries, but clearly, we were only able to offer these flats to two tenants, leaving 1,998 perfectly good potential tenants still looking to find somewhere to live.”
Scotland’s housing crisis has been the focus of Property118.com in recent weeks with a feature on the growing issue in Glasgow which is seeing tenants struggling to find somewhere to rent – and now the situation has been exacerbated by the Scottish Government’s imposition of a rent freeze until next March.
The Scottish Association of Landlords says the situation for landlords is poor and growing numbers will be ‘removing the properties’ from the private rental sector.
It is the potential impact of a rent freeze and a moratorium on evictions that is compounding a difficult situation – not helped by the Scottish minister Patrick Harvie who was unable to answer questions about the rent freeze and how it will impact landlords and tenants as rental homes are removed from the sector.
Belvoir’s Ron Campbell, of Northwood Dundee, echoed Mr Jack’s concerns and said: “We opened our office in 2009, and I can genuinely say that the challenges facing tenants have never been as bad as they are at present.
“Demand is completely outstripping supply, and it is emotionally draining for my team members to continually deliver bad news to those people who come into our offices day in and day out looking for somewhere to live, only to learn there is nothing available and hundreds of people are applying for absolutely every type of property, from one-bedroom flats to three- and four-bedroom family homes.”
He added: “This is a housing crisis that is affecting everyone – from the increasing numbers of foreign students returning to study in Scotland post-Covid, to local families, businesspeople, and refugees.
“Sadly, for every property that comes onto our books we have probably lost four properties from existing stock, as landlords who have been with us for many years are now feeling pushed into exiting the market.
“Although we are doing our best to encourage sales to new and existing landlords, many investors who are worried by rental controls, including the moratorium on evictions that was recently announced, are feeling nervous.
“I hope there will be some sort of consultation between the Housing Minister and our industry to address these issues, or this is a situation that will only worsen.”
Dorian Gonsalves, the chief executive of the Belvoir Group, said: “There is currently a chronic housing shortage in Scotland due to consistent undersupply over the past decade, and now the PRS is in total crisis, resulting in an extremely worrying time for tenants.
“Statistics from the Scottish Household Surveys show that the Scottish PRS in 2016 accounted for 15% of households in the country, with circa 370,000 households.
“In the 2018 Survey, 340,000 households were recorded. Furthermore, figures released by the Scottish Government in February 2020 confirm that the figure had fallen again to 325,649 properties.
“Evidence in the market shows figures have continued to fall since then, resulting in a loss of considerably over 14% of homes available to private renters.”
‘Rental control almost always reduces rental properties’
He added: “Rental controls, such as those recently announced in Scotland, almost always reduce the number of rental properties that are available to tenants, and this follows a stream of legislation clearly aimed at driving landlords out of the market.
“The result, we believe is a very real danger that thousands more rental properties may be lost to the market, which will only exacerbate the problem for tenants, and we must always remember that every property lost from the rental sector is somebody’s home.”
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