A warning has gone out to politicians from lettings agency trade body ARLA Propertymark - don’t try to fix a system that isn’t actually broken.
The rental sector in Scotland is undergoing extensive changes to legislation and regulation, with the ruling Scottish National Party and its partner the Green Party advocating rent controls, extended notice periods, stricter energy efficiency requirements and many more radical reforms to the private rental sector.
However, a roundtable discussion run by Propertymark has claimed that
there is no clear evidence to support the need to change the way grounds for possession are applied in Scotland in particular.
The discussion was the first of three organised by Propertymark as part of the consultation into how the Scottish Government says it intends to work with landlords and tenants to provide affordable, accessible, and energy-efficient homes through its New Deal for Tenants.
During the 90-minute discussion agents questioned the need to permanently make all grounds for possession discretionary (a feature introduced initially temporarily during the pandemic) because of the difficulties they say it could present landlords who want to recover their properties.
They said the current system is working effectively and fairly in most cases. One agent even suggesting that notice to end tenancies instigated by landlords outnumber those from tenants by eight to one.
Also discussed were changes to ending joint tenancy arrangements, specifically relating to incidents of domestic abuse; tighter restrictions on landlords taking back properties to allow them to be used as short-term lets; and a possible winter eviction ban.
Daryl McIntosh, Propertymark policy manager, says: “A key part of our role at Propertymark is to give our members the opportunity to communicate their views of how policies might look on a practical level directly to the policymakers themselves.
“The takeaway from our roundtable was that the current regime is working well and a concern that some of the proposed changes such as those to grounds for possession, are unnecessary and will place additional burdens and costs on landlords that will be detrimental to the sector.
“The message to the Scottish Government officials who attended our event was clear: landlords are really feeling the pressure of endless legislative changes and will continue to head for the exit door if more are pushed through without solid evidence that they are needed.”
The draft A New Deal for Tenants is set to be finalised by the end of this year and new legislation will be brought before parliament in 2023.
Two more roundtables organised by Propertymark will take place this month, looking at balancing rights and risks, and specifically on the issue of rent controls.