Scots target private rented sector
The Scottish Government is consulting on legislation to improve the standard of the private rented sector.
Views are being sought on the proposed Private Housing (Scotland) Bill from today, which is designed to give landlords and tenants a better understanding of their rights and responsibilities.
Housing and communities minister Alex Neil said the bill will improve standards and deliver a better deal for tenants and landlords.
‘Although the private rented sector makes up a small proportion of all housing in Scotland, it is an important part of the market,’ he said.
‘In some areas private renting provides a significant amount of permanent housing, elsewhere it is a vital short-term solution for people at various stages in their lives.’
Professor Douglas Robertson, chair of the Private Rented Sector Strategy Group – which advised the Scottish Government – said: ‘The proposed reforms focus on further refining the landlord registration system, refining the licensing of homes in multiple occupancy, tackling specific overcrowding issues and making improvements to the existing tenancy regime.’
Gordon MacRae, head of communications and policy at housing charity Shelter Scotland said: ‘There’s some good ideas…but it is only really a halfway house bill. Measures to improve the private rented sector must go further for the benefit of tenants and good landlords.
‘This would mean the Scottish Government committing to a second bill covering the likes of an overhaul of regulation of the private rented sector, including landlord registration, a revamp of tenancy laws to promote longer term tenancies, and effective action against illegal eviction.’
Last month regulation came into effect which gives local authorities greater power to place homeless households with private landlords.
The implementation of section 32a of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 should help the country meet its target of ending homelessness by 2012.
Councils will be able to discharge their legislative duty to house households with a short-assured tenancy, which gives special rights to a landlord to repossess a house they have let.
The local authority will be required to provide any support necessary to help people stay in their private sector tenancy and the new rules set out a number of conditions to ensure private let is the most suitable choice.
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: ‘The private rented sector has a role to play in areas where social housing is especially scarce and can provide a housing solution for some homeless people.
But he added the charity would be ‘keeping an eye on this’ to ensure homeless people placed in the private rented sector were given support and that it is suitable.