A new national campaign aimed at making Scotland’s growing private rented sector fit for families and fairer for all has been launched by Shelter Scotland.
The charity launched its campaign in Edinburgh and is calling for an end to the destructive cycle which sees tenants forced from pillar to post on short-term tenancy agreements often as short as six months.
According to Shelter Scotland with homeownership out of reach for many and a chronic shortage of affordable social housing, more and more families across Scotland are being forced into the private rented sector for their long-term housing needs.
The charity says that while private renting offers greater flexibility and is an attractive choice for some, it is not suited to providing families and individuals with a safe and secure environment in which to put down stable foundations and bring up children.
According to the charity’s research the private rented sector has almost doubled in size in less than five years – increasing by 98 per cent with more families with children renting privately. In 2010 families with children represented 17 per cent of private renters compared to only seven per cent in 1999.
Shelter Scotland is asking the public and politicians to sign up and support its call to the Scottish Government for positive reform of the sector – which is now home to more than 270,000 families and individuals across Scotland – with the aim of making it a more secure and stable place to live and raise a family.
Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Short-term tenancy agreements do not provide the stability and security individuals and, in particular, young families, need in order to live a settled life and bring up children.
“Too often we hear of people being moved on, evicted or rents increased unreasonably, forcing people into the destructive and unsettling cycle of having to move house - every six months in some cases - preventing them from ever being able to put down strong roots or build a stable environment in which to live. Often, children’s education can suffer as a result of frequent moves to other schools.
“We want to build a private rented sector that is fit for families and individuals and protects all tenants – a sector that provides long-term homes not short-term housing.”
Graeme Brown added: “The benefits would not just be felt by tenants. Landlords too would see a more constant and predictable income with less downtime between rents and happier more stable relationships with their tenants.
“That’s why we are calling on the Scottish Government to reform the private rented sector and turn it into a place where the increasing numbers of people who rely on it can make a house a home and live with increased security and dignity.”
A recent survey for Shelter Scotland found that a long-term stable renting was likely to benefit landlords as well, by safeguarding their return on investment and even increasing it in the long-term.