The Belvoir Group is warning that the housing crisis within the Scottish private rental sector is rapidly worsening, thanks to the emergency rent controls introduced north of the border.
Dorian Gonsalves, chief executive of the Belvoir Group, wants people to lobby politicians in Scotland to take action now.
He says: “There is currently a chronic housing shortage in Scotland due to consistent undersupply over the past decade, and now the private rental sector is in total crisis, resulting in an extremely worrying time for tenants. Statistics from the Scottish Household Surveys show that the Scottish private rental sector in 2016 accounted for 15 per cent 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 per cent of homes available to private renters.
“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.
“Franchisees within the Belvoir Group are doing everything possible to help tenants cope with this dire situation, and I would encourage everyone affected by the lack of rental properties in Scotland to raise this issue with their local Member of the Scottish Parliament. If MSPs are made aware of the hardship that this crisis in the PRS is causing, and its impact on the lives of tenants, they may begin to realise the extent of the problem and take steps to implement the urgent remedial action that is needed to relieve pressure on the PRS.
“This action must include steps to increase the number of rental homes in Scotland.”
Two individual Belvoir franchisees have also spoken out about the crisis.
Andrew Jack from Belvoir Edinburgh says: “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 9000 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 2,000 enquiries, but clearly, we were only able to offer these flats to two tenants, leaving 1998 perfectly good potential tenants still looking to find somewhere to live.
“My team are very aware that behind every enquiry there is a person who is the human face of this crisis. These people are desperate to find a home, and we are doing everything we possibly can to help them, but the truth is that without more properties it is becoming increasingly difficult.”
And Ron Campbell of Northwood Dundee echoes these concerns, saying: “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.”