23 Nov 2023

Response to Scottish Labour Housing Emergency Motion

Response to Scottish Labour Housing Emergency Motion

Adrian Sangster, leasing Director, Aberdein Considine

The latest motion tabled by Scottish Labour in The Scottish Parliament has added to the calls for action to be taken on housing in Scotland.

Housing, and more specifically the shortage and cost of it, is of course a very hot topic and has been for decades and yet we are still to see real action to fix what is a huge problem.

The motion from Scottish Labour is of course welcome but the truth is it adds very little to the debate in terms of the debate or providing any actual solutions.

The Private Rented Sector plays an incredibly important role within the housing mix and for a variety of reasons it has been damaged fairly significantly over the last few years.

There is growing evidence to show that landlords, many of whom are not large businesses but simply individuals who may have inherited a home from family, are withdrawing from the sector due to the complexity of regulations and the increasing financial burden.

Lots of hot air has been expended in recent months by politicians of all parties, much of which seems designed to attract headlines rather than provide answers.

We know that rent controls do not work – Finland is the perfect example of what not to do. 

Furthermore, the current emergency legislation has had a negative effect on those it purported to protect, particularly with the number of landlords leaving the sector.

It is likely that any attempts to extend controls to market rents will almost certainly irreparably damage the sector causing more distress to those looking for a safe and comfortable home.

It’s fair to say that higher landlord costs, caused by increased regulations, including upcoming Repairing Standards, EPCs and higher contractor and supplier costs, have, in short, been ignored.

Whilst much of the debate has rightly been centred around the challenges being faced by tenants, landlords also need to be encouraged and not vilified by all parties for the sake of a headline. The situation is far too serious.

The rhetoric from the government, and it has to be said from other parties, is certainly having a detrimental effect on the confidence of build-to-rent investors who are a critical element in helping to address the housing shortage.

Reports of one Scottish agent receiving 40,000 tenant enquiries within one month is a sad indictment of the lack of action. It is simply not sustainable.

It is important for political parties to bring these issues to the fore, but at some point, they just need to come up with some practical, well-thought-through policies. 

If Scottish Labour does find itself in government it needs to do more than talk a good game.

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