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Political wannabes wrong to blame holiday lets, claims top agent

A prominent lettings agent has criticised leading candidates for the leadership of the Scottish National Party for anti-holiday let policies.

David Alexander, the chief executive officer of DJ Alexander Scotland Ltd - part of the Lomond group of agency brands - is critical of SNP leaders’ views on rural housing north of the border.

“For decades there have been too few new houses being built in these areas to meet demand. While the Scottish Government’s is determined to blame second homeowners and holiday lets and drive them out of the market they forget that the hospitality and tourism sectors require these places for people to stay if the local economy is to thrive” says Alexander.


He is especially critical of one SNP leadership hopeful, Humza Yousaf, who has pledged to commit £25m from the affordable housing budget to buy empty properties to house NHS staff and police officers in the Highlands, Islands and north-east if he becomes First Minister.

Yousaf says the Scottish government will buy up empty rural homes, fund their restoration, and then offer them to key workers to help deal with the housing problems these areas face. 

He intends to increase council tax rates on second homes across the Highlands islands and north-east to increase the number of homes being used all year round. His claim is that house prices are being driven up in rural Scotland by people who own multiple properties.

Yousaf says: “In many cases, it can be quicker and cheaper to buy up or long lease empty homes and bring them back into use than to build new ones …. That would also mean more work for smaller local builders and tradesmen to repair and restore those empty properties.”

Alexander responds by saying: “While the intention to provide homes for key workers in rural areas is laudable this proposal will fall far short of what is required. Politicians seem to see empty homes as the answer to all housing problems. Last week it was [Labour’s Scottish leader] Anas Sarwar who proposed selling empty homes for a £1 and now an SNP leadership candidate believes that buying some empty properties will resolve the housing issues rural Scotland faces.

“You have to question whether this promise will be fulfilled. 

“The Scottish Government’s most recent budget in December 2022 showed £752m in funding for affordable housing for 2023-24 which is £37m less than its planned spend and almost 10 per cent lower than the previous years’ allocation. They also faced criticism in January this year on their failure to deliver on a pledge to spend £30m tackling the rural housing crisis. In answer to a recent Freedom Of Information  question, it was revealed that the Scottish government had spent less than £18m on rural housing since 2016-17.”

And Alexander quips: “Mr Yousaf also states that, along with emergency workers, he also intends to supply homes for people who work in the care sector, hospitality, and tourism. This is a large number of people requiring a lot of homes from a budget of £25m.”


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