01 Mar 2024

Report shows lack of strategic direction in the private rented sector is fuelling Scotland’s housing crisis

The lack of a strategic, evidence based approach to the private rented sector (PRS) by the Scottish Government is impacting the effectiveness of the sector to assist with Scotland’s housing crisis, is one of the key findings in the latest Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan (RRTP) report by the Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland (CIH Scotland) and Fife Council.

The sector report urges the Scottish Government to show leadership in ensuring all elements of Scotland’s housing market work together, effectively, to tackle the housing crisis. It calls on government to set a clear evidence based vision for the PRS, highlighting the vital role the PRS plays in addressing Scotland’s housing needs.

The Scottish Government’s latest homelessness statistics covering the period April to September 2023 show a continuing increase in homelessness levels with a 10 per cent increase in the number of open cases and an eight per cent increase in the number of households in temporary accommodation compared to the same period in the previous year.

Underlining the findings of the report Gavin Smith, chair of CIH Scotland said:

“The private rented sector is a vital part of our housing infrastructure and has the potential to alleviate homelessness in Scotland. However, we’re currently seeing Scotland’s PRS contract, with 68 per cent of local authorities who took part in this research reporting an increase of private landlords leaving the market in their area and 47 per cent concerned about increasing levels of homelessness from the PRS. The reduction in supply, further amplifies the issue of demand with record levels of people living in temporary accommodation and building figures dropping. This report calls on the Scottish Government to acknowledge the PRS as a systemic part of Scotland’s housing infrastructure and implement an evidence and strategic based approach to its legislation and policy making in this area.”

The report highlights that the percentage of homeless households being housed in a private rented tenancy has steadily decreased each year since 2021.

Homes for Good - Scotland’s first social enterprise letting agency – are committed to creating secure quality homes for tenants and enabling landlords to successfully manage their investments. Joey Lawrie, head of lettings and tenancy support at Homes for Good sets out why it is so important not just to provide a tenancy but to create beautiful spaces where tenants can feel at home.

“We deal with all types of people at Homes for Good, with the aim of providing safe, secure homes. In a recent survey, all the tenants we spoke with expressed that they felt safe and secure in their tenancy. This is mainly because we provide a supportive, open service working with tenants to resolve any issues that arise. We know from speaking with tenants that many people’s experience of the PRS is one of uncertainty. At Homes for Good, we know that doesn’t have to be the case and support the findings of the report, advocating for a plan to enable all of the private rented sector to be an effective part of Scotland’s housing solution.”

The report is the fourth and final in a series examining local authority approaches to tackling homelessness through Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans (RRTPs) first introduced at the end of 2018. It follows the publication at the end of 2023 of the third report, which analysed the affordability of the PRS for local housing allowance recipients in Scotland and found 92 per cent of private rent was not affordable. Additional reports in the series made the case for continuing to provide dedicated funding to tackle homelessness through RRTPs for the next five years and provided a monitoring framework for local authorities.