The Scottish Government policies designed to help tenants have resulted in almost 22,000 homes being removed from the rental market and led to an increase in rents.

The Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) said anti-landlord rhetoric had triggered an exodus from the sector over the past 12-months, adding that “short-term, ineffective policies” from ministers were “harming investment in private rented housing in Scotland”.

The shortage of stock in some areas has driven the average rent in Scotland up from £972 per month a year ago to just under £1,100 today - with the average rent in Aberdeen running 10% higher than it was a year ago.

A survey of SAL members carried out in December found that they had removed an average of 6.4% of their properties from the private rental sector last year. If this reduction was replicated across the sector, some 21,760 homes will have been removed, SAL calculated.

When asked about their reasons for planning to remove homes from the sector, 83% of those surveyed highlighted a “perceived hostility towards landlords from government/politicians”.

Three quarters (75%) said that they had concerns about rent controls, with a similar number (74%) attributing their decision to increased regulation in the sector.

The Scottish Government introduced legislation to introduce a rent freeze in 2022 in response to the cost of living crisis.

These measures — due to end this April — were later relaxed to allow landlords to increase rents by 3%, with this rising to 6% in some circumstances. The emergency legislation, which was passed by Holyrood, also placed a ban on evictions from being carried out in most situations.

With the legislation coming to an end, Patrick Harvie, the tenants’ rights minister, has announced plans to change temporarily the rent adjudication process until April 1, 2025. This will allow landlords to charge rent increases of 6% or less provided the total rent is not more than market value.

John Blackwood, the SAL chief executive, said that the situation in Scotland was “causing significant harm” as it was “reducing supply and driving up costs for tenants”.

Speaking to The Times, he said: “Landlords have been warning for the past few years that the combination of anti-landlord rhetoric along with short-term, ineffective policies are harming investment in private rented housing in Scotland.

“These chickens are now coming home to roost as landlords lose confidence and are choosing to exit the sector. This is reducing supply and driving up costs for tenants and causing significant harm. We have already seen a number of councils point to landlord exits as a reason for increased pressure on their own housing stock and this will only continue in the future.

“Instead of these short-term measures, the Scottish government must come together with all parts of the sector to encourage investment. We need to see a lot more social housing in Scotland, as well as new builds and investment in flexible, high-quality privately rented accommodation.”

The Scottish Government has not commented on the figures - however, the Scottish Greens have described them as "misleading", adding: "this number is based on self-reporting by a small number of member landlords and then inflated for all of Scotland".

More like this…

View all