Scotland’s new Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) (Scotland) Bill - passed this week by politicians at Holyrood - represents a dark day for that country’s private rental sector.
Daryl McIntosh, Propertymark’s policy manager for the UK devolved nations, says: “The Scottish government has provided no justification or evidence for continuing to enforce restrictive legislation on private landlords at a time when the rest of society is returning to pre-pandemic ways of living and working.
“There is no logic for housing to have formed such a significant part of legislation to manage the impact of Covid when there is a separate Housing Bill also coming down the line.
“This is a dark day for Scotland’s private rented sector with long-term outcomes that are likely to prove extremely damaging for the sector.
“Deterring more private landlords from making their properties available for rent due to the elevated risks associated with gaining possession will do nothing to ensure a sufficient supply of homes, meaning less choice for tenants and more pressure on the social housing sector.”
The passing of the Bill will mean that from October every possession claim will continue to be subject to the judgement of the First-tier Tribunal, and an order will only be granted where the tribunal agrees the ground exists.
All 18 grounds are currently temporarily discretionary as part of measures brought in to protect tenants during the pandemic - the Bill makes those measures permanent.
The measure has also drawn fire from Stephen Young, head of policy at Scottish Land & Estates, who says: "Many organisations and researchers have said that these tenancy reforms will be a lose-lose for both tenants and landlords. The Scottish Government has refused to change course and instead plough on despite the long-term damage it will cause to the private rented sector.
"We firmly support the need for safe, warm, quality housing for all. The private rented sector provides that and a recent government survey confirmed 94 per cent of households were happy with their existing arrangements.
"By removing safeguards for landlords, many will choose to remove their properties from rental and housing supply will be affected. That will mean more tenants will be competing for fewer properties and those with less resources will not be able to compete, particularly when it comes to paying deposits.
“It is also likely that more cases will become clogged up in the tribunal system. Tribunals are already suffering severe delays and there has been no assurances from government that they will provide extra resources to alleviate the inevitable backlog, which is bad news for tenants and landlords. We also asked government to commit to assessing the impact of this legislation in the future but it has declined to do so.
"Housing supply continues to be a huge problem in rural Scotland and the Scottish Government has just exacerbated this. The option was available to examine tenancy reform in more detail as part of a forthcoming housing bill but instead government has chosen to enact these ill-advised changes as part of a public health bill. That is deeply regrettable."