The coming year should be about promoting harmony in the lettings market says the head of an agency that’s now part of a huge property empire.
Just five days before Christmas DJ Alexander Ltd became part of the Lomond Group; the move, funded by Lomond’s private equity partner LDC, was the group’s 24th acquisition in 2021.
DJ Alexander will continue to trade under its existing name, with founder David Alexander leading the Lomond business in Scotland as chief executive. DJ Alexander’s 104 employees will join Lomond Group, bringing the total group headcount to approximately 250 in Scotland and 1,000 across the UK.
Now David Alexander has made his first major industry statement as part of the Lomond empire, saying that too often there has been an antagonistic approach to the private rented sector which undermines its essential role in housing hundreds of thousands of people.
The latest Scottish Housing Survey published in 2019, reveals that 14 per cent of the Scottish population - around 340,000 households - live in the PRS. This has nearly trebled since 1999 when just five per cent of the population lived in privately rented homes.
Over the same period the percentage of Scots living in social housing has declined from 32 per cent in 1999 to around 24 per cent. The remaining 62 per cent are owner occupied properties.
Alexander says: “Demonising the private rental sector will not resolve Scotland’s housing problems and, if anything, it is likely to make it worse. The private rented sector is an essential part of housing provision in Scotland. What always seems to be forgotten is that many thousands of people choose to live in the PRS because of their lifestyle, location, convenience, and simply because it suits them.
“Legislators need to be wary of playing to the gallery in producing the simplistic argument that private renting is bad while social housing is good. Both parts of the rented sector, along with owner occupiers, serve differing needs of the population and you interfere with these systems at your peril.”
He continues: “It is of great concern that the Scottish Government consultation paper ‘New deal for Tenants’ mentions rent controls and was launched without a supporting quote from any landlord organisation or letting company. Rent controls have never worked anywhere in the world and invariably lead to higher rents for new tenants and fewer properties on the market resulting in more housing shortages in the medium to long term.
“The fact that the PRS has grown significantly over the last 20 years is important and reflects tenants voting with their feet and moving into properties where they want and can afford to live. That social housing has declined by a comparable amount over the same period simply reflects changing demands in society.
“All politicians promise enormous housing plans to meet the changing needs of the population, but they rarely keep up with the shifting patterns of society … Less rhetoric in 2022 and more communication is what is required.”