SCOTTISH Gas and housing and homelessness charity, Shelter Scotland, today launch a major, five-year partnership to help tens of thousands of Scotland’s households improve safety standards and the quality of living in their homes.
As part of a Britain-wide campaign, Scottish Gas and Shelter Scotland will, over the coming weeks, set out the detail of ‘Better Homes for Britain’; a joint three-point plan for improving housing standards in the private rented sector which includes:
* A joint commitment to improve the standard of one million homes in the UK private rented sector over the next five years
* Helping private landlords meet the statutory minimum standard for private rented homes
* Policy recommendations to raise standards in the private rented sector
In Scotland, the private rented sector is now home to an estimated 290,000 households – 11 per cent of all Scotland’s housing. But, by 2020, forecasts say that number is set to increase to 20 per cent.
Official records show that the majority of private rental homes are in good condition. However, as the number of private rented homes grows, so too does the number of homes which fail to meet required standards.
Currently in Scotland, an estimated 157,000 households in the PRS sector (67per cent) fail the Scottish Housing Quality Standard. Statistics also show that eight per cent have a poor National Home Energy Rating (NHER) standard in terms of energy efficiency. Private rented dwellings are about three times more likely to have a ‘poor’ NHER than owner-occupied dwellings, according to the Scottish House Conditions Survey 2010.
Better information for better homes
Says a Shelter Scotland spokesperson: “Despite the growth in the private rental sector to become a mainstream part of the housing market, relatively little data is available at a household level. To address this, Shelter Scotland and Scottish Gas are commissioning the widest ever census of private rental living. This will be published in due course.
“Scottish Gas will draw on its practical expertise in homes across Scotland – from insulation to plumbing, boilers, electrical safety, carbon monoxide alarms, smart metering, as well as practical advice on warmth and safety from its thousands of engineers.”
Kevin Roxburgh, chief executive of Scottish Gas, said:
“At Scottish Gas, we visit 50,000 homes everyday in the UK keeping our customers’ homes safe, warm and working. However, private rental homes are lagging behind owner-occupied homes and the social housing programmes we are proud to support.
“Dilapidated properties with dangerous or inefficient old boilers and inadequate insulation are far too prevalent in the private rental sector. We need a culture of energy efficiency and standards need to be raised, backed up by legislation.
“Scottish Gas is proud to be joining forces with Shelter Scotland. Together we plan to deliver better standards in the private rental sector, better support for tenants and, most importantly, better homes for Britain.”
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said:
“A lack of affordable housing and the difficulties facing young people today in getting on the property ladder mean renting is now a long-term way of life for more and more families across the country.
“With these increasing levels of demand, it is totally unacceptable that so many of our rented properties are still not meeting the basic standards families should be able to expect in their home. At Shelter Scotland, we see so many shocking examples of families forced to live in homes that are damp, in appalling condition or even unsafe to live in.
“Together with Scottish Gas, we’ll have the scale and reach to improve the condition of a million homes and set out the policy reform we need to improve our private rental sector for good.”
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Notes to editors:
The Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS) is an aggregation of the results from about 60 different programme modules aggregated into five higher-level classifications which in turn provide a single pass/fail classification for all dwellings. The five higher-level criteria are that the dwelling must be:
- Above the statutory Tolerable Standard
- Free from serious disrepair
- Energy efficient
- With modern facilities and services
- Healthy, safe and secure.
The National Home Energy Rating Standard is a rating scale for the energy efficiency of houses. This rates dwellings on scale of zero (poor) to ten (excellent) based on the total energy costs per square metre of floor area.
These figures come from the Scottish House Condition Survey 2010 published in 2011 (http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2011/11/23172215/0)
About British Gas
British Gas is Britain’s leading energy supplier and serves company serving half the homes in Britain. British Gas sells energy to around ten million homes and last year it serviced and fixed seven million boilers and installed over 100,000 new energy efficient heating systems. British Gas is also one of the largest installers of energy efficiency products and last year installed over 400,000 insulation measures in its customers’ homes helping save energy and money. For more information, visit www.britishgas.co.uk
About Shelter Scotland
Shelter Scotland provides expert support services, online advice and a free national helpline for everyone facing housing and homelessness difficulties. For advice and support visit www.shelterscotland.org or call 0808 800 4444.
Spokespeople are available for interview – call the media office on 0844 515 2442. An ISDN line is available for broadcast interviews.
Follow Shelter Scotland on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/shelterinscotland Twitter – http://twitter.com/shelterscotland
Shelter Scotland believes everyone should have a home. We help people find and keep a home. We campaign for decent housing for all.
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