Students must be protected in new rental regime, landlords and letting agents warn MSPs

11
Nov

Landlords and letting agents will today tell MSPs that legislation to modernise the rental regime in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) in Scotland should be amended to prevent a sharp reduction in the amount of student accommodation available.

The Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) and the Council of Letting Agents (CLA) will today tell MSPs on the Infrastructure & Capital Investment Committee that the proposed “one size fits all” regime could have a detrimental impact on landlords and tenants in the student accommodation sector leading to a reduction in supply.  They will call for an amendment to the legislation to provide an additional new ground for possession to enable student lets to be ended to tie in with the academic year.

SAL and the CLA will point out that many landlords split their properties between students and holiday lets and, as a result of the proposed changes, these landlords may decide not to rent to students as they wouldn’t be able to guarantee that they would leave the property at the end of the academic year in time for visitors to the city.  Instead they will take more traditional, longer-term tenants, reducing the supply available for students and visitors.

John Blackwood, Chief Executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords said: “SAL welcomes the proposals to modernise the rental regime in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) in Scotland to make sure the system is fit for the 21st Century and believes the proposals are a big step towards achieving that.  However, many of our members have already told us that as a result of these changes, they may simply stop renting to students because the lease terms will not be suitable.  A small amendment to the legislation could prevent this without undermining the fundamental aims of the Bill.”

“Whilst it is unlikely any landlords will lose out financially as a result of the move, as a responsible part of the housing sector in Scotland, landlords are concerned about the resultant loss of available student accommodation, particularly in high-demand areas such as Edinburgh and Aberdeen, as well as in more rural areas in the Borders and Dumfries & Galloway.  As supply reduces and demand increases, student accommodation could become more expensive, making poor reading for their parents who might be footing the cost.”

Amanda Wiewiorka, Chair of the Council of Letting Agents (CLA) said: “I hope that MSPs will listen to our concerns when we give evidence to them today.  I don’t think there is any fundamental disagreement with the Scottish Government on this issue but we do believe that the proposed legislation could be improved by an amendment giving an additional new ground for possession to enable student lets to be ended to tie in with the academic year.”

——ENDS——

Notes to Editors

For more information, please contact Graeme Downie on 07973 300 184 or at graeme.downie@orbit-comms.co.uk

John Blackwood, Chief Executive of Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL), and Amanda Wiewiorka, Chair of the Council of Letting Agents (CLA) will give oral evidence to the Scottish Parliament Infrastructure & Capital Investment Committee on Wednesday 11 November.  The committee has been designated the lead committee examining the proposed Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill.

The relevant extract from SAL’s written evidence to the Committee’s call for evidence is:

“We have concerns that the “one size fits all” regime will have a detrimental impact on landlords and tenants in the student accommodation sector. Many landlords split their properties between students and holiday lets, particularly in places like Edinburgh. Instead of providing housing to these two groups during the year, landlords may decide not to rent to students as they wouldn’t be able to guarantee that they would leave the property at the end of the academic year in time for visitors to the city.  Instead they will take more traditional, longer-term tenants, reducing the supply available for students and visitors.

 Student tenants will no longer be able to secure accommodation well in advance as they like to do so at present as landlords will not be able to market properties until their current tenants serve notice. This will leave many students having to return to their university towns during the summer holidays to find accommodation for the next academic year. We also believe that many landlords will require student tenants to enter into longer term tenancies as they will no longer be able to guarantee the use of the property for other purposes during the student summer holidays.

 For these reasons we have been calling for a ground for possession to enable student lets to be ended to tie in with the academic year.”

Scottish Association of Landlords

Established in 2001 having developed from various local groupings of landlords and letting agents, the Scottish Association of Landlords quickly grew to be the largest and only dedicated national landlords organisation representing landlords and agents throughout Scotland.

Through our fourteen local branches and with members from Shetland to Stranraer, the organisation has strong links with Scottish local authorities and actively campaigns at local and national level on behalf of members.  Our acclaimed training programme, delivered through sister organisation Landlord Accreditation Scotland (LAS), offers our members the opportunity to meet locally and learn from each other’s experience as well as gaining knowledge from some of the country’s most experienced industry trainers.

Policy, lobbying and campaigning has been an important aspect of SAL’s work since our inception. Our Policy & Parliamentary Affairs department works at the heart of government in the Scottish Parliament, as well as Westminster where relevant, with most of housing matters devolved to Holyrood.

Council of Letting Agents

The Council of Letting Agents (CLA) is the specialist wing of the Scottish Association of Landlords representing Scotland’s leading letting agents. It is the largest professional association of its kind in Scotland and is at the head of the lettings industry.

The CLA represents the collective opinion of our member letting agents and we encourage all our members to feed in by email or phone. Landlords and agents are in the same industry, so we believe working together as much as possible as equal parts of SAL, the leading trade body in the country, makes us all stronger.

Chair Amanda Wiewiorka leads the group and represents agents on the SAL National Council which feeds into the overall policy position of the organisation.