Scottish spotlight on better standards for renters

By staff writers
September 24, 2016

The impact of new and existing laws on private renting in Scotland is the main theme of a high-level conference taking place in Edinburgh this month (September 2016).

‘Putting it into Practice’, brings together local authority housing professionals, third sector organisations, landlords, letting agents and tenants to discuss the implications of new legislation such as the new private residential tenancy, new and existing powers for local authorities to tackle poor conditions as well as the roll-out of universal credit.

It is estimated that around 700,000 people in Scotland are directly affected by the changes.

There is a particular concern about practical interventions to improve standards – including a showcase of a new Shelter Scotland private rented sector project and its work with landlords.

The conference is also hearing how one Scottish local authority used Trading Standards as a tool to drive up standards in the private rented sector by sharing their experience of taking legal action against private landlords.

Speakers include Kevin Stewart MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Local Government and Housing; Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland; John Blackwood, chief Executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) and Mike Bruce, chief executive of Weslo Housing Management.

Graeme Brown from Shelter Scotland explained: “The growing importance of private renting in Scotland and the many changes in legislation which profoundly impact how the sector is run, make this conference a must for housing professionals, landlords, letting agents and tenants.

“Far reaching changes to the shape of Scotland’s private tenancy regime which will fundamentally rebalance the relationship between landlords and tenants and due to be implemented next year will be of particular interest to delegates.”

Brown added: “Private renting in Scotland has doubled over the last ten years with more than 330,000 households now in the sector - 85,000 with children.  Many of the changes to be discussed at conference have been introduced with the aim of greater protection and increased security and fairness for tenants.  It is vital that landlords and letting agents in particular get to grip with and address the changes they are required to make by law.”

Scottish Government Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “We are committed to modernising the private rented sector and doing all we can to ensure it is an attractive and affordable place for people to live.

“Shelter Scotland’s conference is an opportunity to reflect on the wide ranging regulatory powers that have been introduced for the private rented sector over the last few years and how these can be used to improve the physical standards of housing and the way that these properties are managed.

“Legislation like the Private Tenancies Act, registration of letting agents and the new housing tribunal services is providing security and stability for the 700,000 people who live in private rented housing and improving their access to housing disputes.

“Our actions are also putting safeguards in place for landlords, lenders and investors.”

Mike Bruce, chief executive of Weslo Housing Management, added: “We are delighted to be sponsoring this important event. It is essential to ensure that everyone operating in the sector understands the new and existing regulation to meet the cross-sector ambition of creating a better and more professional private rented sector.”

* Shelter Scotland: http://scotland.shelter.org.uk/

* Ekklesia's book Foxes have holes: Christian reflections on Britain's housing need, which suggests some innocative ways forward in addressing the housing crisis, can be purchased here.

[Ekk/3]

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.