A NEW report by leading housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland claims that almost 80,000 families with children who rent privately in Scotland face an uncertain future because the current renting system does not offer enough security and stability.
The warning comes ahead of Census data to be released this week (Thursday 26th September) which is expected to show a sharp rise in the number of families with children renting privately.
Says a spokesperson: “Research by the charity reveals that 59 per cent of people – equivalent to 2.4 million adults in Scotland – agree that private renting is increasingly going to be the place where families live in the future. (1)
“According to Shelter Scotland’s report – The case for greater security for private tenants in Scotland – the private rented sector has doubled in size in the last decade but little has changed to protect the new wave of renters, which increasingly includes families with children.
“According to the Scottish Government, 305,000 homes in Scotland are privately rented, representing 12 per cent of all housing in Scotland.
“According to the Scottish Household Survey – which represents a sample of all Scottish households – around a quarter of those renting privately has children.
“Shelter Scotland says Thursday’s 2011 Census data is set to give an even more comprehensive picture of Scottish households and their housing options, including a sharp rise in the number of private renters.”
Shelter Scotland’s report calls for the Scottish Government to rethink renting and move away from insecure short-term tenancies which dominate Scotland’s private rented sector, towards tenancies which offer increased security and stability for families.
The charity says the move would also drive up standards in the sector as tenants would be able to confidently ask landlords to fulfil their legal responsibilities without fear of being asked to leave at the end of their short-term tenancy.
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said:
“As an increasing number of families with children call the private rented sector home, it’s important that it adapts to their changing needs.
“Where renting was once the flexible alternative to buying a home, it is fast providing long-term housing for young people and families who are locked out of home ownership or stuck on council waiting lists for years on end.
“Too often we hear of people being moved on, evicted or rents increased unreasonably. Some are forced 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.
“For families with children, this can be particularly difficult and can affect a child’s schooling and access to support networks.”
Graeme Brown added:
“There is no reason why these families – almost 80,000 in number – should not have the same level of security and stability in their homes that previous generations have enjoyed.
“We urge the Scottish Government to rethink renting and ensure that the aspirations of today’s renting families are not squandered.”
Shelter Scotland recommends that the Scottish Government act to rethink renting by increasing security to guarantee that private tenants have a home to live in for as long as they need it. The charity says this will empower tenants to use their consumer rights which will as a result drive up standards in the private rented sector.
Graeme Brown added:
“The benefits of more security for tenants also extend to landlords. Tenants who are confident that they can stay in their homes for as long as they need could help to reduce the number of void months that landlords need to account for each year, and encourage investment in the private rented sector.
“Importantly, under our proposals, landlords would still be able to get their property back if they require to live in it as their home, or need to sell it.”
Report: The case for greater security for private tenants in Scotland
Notes to Editors:
1. August 2012 – Shelter and Shelter Scotland commissioned YouGov to conduct a nationally representative survey of 5,379 GB adults. The survey found that found that 59 per cent of people – equivalent to 2.4 million adults in Scotland – agree that private renting is increasingly going to be the place where families live in the future.
2. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size for the 2012 was 5379 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 10th – 14th August 2012. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). Extra analysis and population equivalents have been calculated by Shelter based on the total adult population in Scotland is an estimated as 4,184,261 adults.
3. Shelter Scotland recommends that the Scottish Government act to rethink renting by:
• Removing the short assured tenancy and modernising the assured tenancy to guarantee that tenants have a home to live in for as long as they need it.
• Reviewing the current grounds for possession under the assured tenancy regime to ensure that landlords can regain possession of their properties under certain circumstances.
• Reviewing the procedure for rent increases, with consideration of starting with an initial market rent put up by an inflationary index or contractually agreed amounts at agreed points during the tenancy.
• Keeping a flexible approach to notice periods ensuring that flexibility remains for those tenants who need it.
• Setting up an easy-to-access dispute resolution service to resolve issues between landlords and tenants, and to ensure that possession procedures are efficiently handled.
4. Shelter Scotland helps over half a million people a year struggling with bad housing or homelessness – and we campaign to prevent it in the first place. We’re here so no-one has to fight bad housing or homelessness on their own. For advice and support visit www.shelterscotland.org or call 0808 800 4444.
5. Spokespeople are available for interview – call the media office on 0844 515 2442. An ISDN line is available for broadcast interviews.
6. Follow Shelter Scotland on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/shelterscotland 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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Contact: Shelter Scotland