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Investors may quit buy to let, leading agency chief warns

The lettings agency boss at the centre of a major industry takeover has fired a warning shot about rent controls and new measures potentially hindering the private rental sector.

David Alexander, the managing director of DJ Alexander - which was acquired by the fast-growing Lomond Group just this week - says he welcomes a new consultation paper on renting in Scotland.

But he warns the Scottish Government that buy to let landlords could quit in high numbers if rent controls are implemented. 


“The consultation paper on the new deal for tenants is welcome. Everybody wants to ensure that all tenants are treated fairly and live in appropriate housing and feel secure in their homes” he says.

“Scotland already has the fairest eviction policy in the UK, with greater rights for tenants to ensure they feel secure in their tenancy, and with a tribunal system to ensure problems can be resolved to the satisfaction of all involved.”

“Of concern with this [consultation] paper is the mention of rent controls which have never worked anywhere and invariably lead to fewer properties on the market and more housing shortages. 

“It is important to remember that landlords and property investors can go elsewhere. There are currently 340,000 households in the PRS in Scotland and this has risen from five per cent of the population in 1999 to represent 14 per cent in 2019. At the same time social housing has declined from 32 per cent to around 24 per cent.”

In addition to calling for rent controls, the rest of the Scottish Government’s consultation document includes proposals on:

- increasing penalties for illegal evictions and stronger enforcement;

- restricting evictions during winter;

- giving tenants greater flexibility to personalise their homes and keep pets;

- introducing a new Housing Standard to apply to all homes;

- establishing a private rented sector regulator to uphold these standards and ensure the system is fair for both landlords and tenants;

- setting minimum standards for energy efficiency, making homes cheaper to heat while contributing to Scotland’s climate change targets.


David Alexander concludes: “If the approach to resolving Scotland’s housing shortage is simply to attack one part of the sector, then there is every likelihood of failure. 

“The Scottish Government must have an inclusive and welcoming approach to ensure that the rights of landlords, investors and tenants are all listened to equally and their views are reflected in any changes to the current legislation. 

“The alternative to inclusivity could lead to a shortage of housing and a consequent slowing of economic growth.”

You can see the Scottish Government consultation document in full here, and you can see news on Lomond Group’s takeover of DJ Alexander here.


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