Opposition to rent controls in Scotland mounts as new evidence emerges

Protests are growing over the Scottish Government’s stated intention to introduce rent controls.

The controls, to be introduced in rental hotspots, have been made part of the Government’s current legislative programme.

Latest to step into the controversy is lettings portal Citylets, which made it plain that it has struggled to find any hotspots.

It said that in real terms, almost all rents have fallen across Scotland since the onset of the credit crunch.

Even in the key cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, rents for most types of properties have fallen in real terms.

Where rents have risen – in the key two-bedroom markets in Edinburgh and Glasgow – Citylet has found rises from 1.45% to 3.8% since 2008.

Citylets founder Thomas Ashdown said: “Rents are not out of control in this country. They are, on the whole, falling in real terms and it is simply not credible for any party to contend otherwise.

“As far as we can see, it is only the two-bedroom markets in Edinburgh and Glasgow that have risen above inflation over the last eight years with just three postcodes recording double digit growth – EH1, EH9 and G12.”

Earlier this month, Zoopla named Edinburgh as the best city for buy-to-let investors wanting student accommodation in the UK. The Zoopla research found that four out of five of the top most profitable locations for landlords is in Scotland.

The report said that a four-bedroom home in Edinburgh has a high yield because of its typical value of £426,774, with a monthly rental at £2,171.

Properties in both Oxford and Warwick have higher selling prices than an Edinburgh home at £559,312 and £482,569 respectively, but returns on investment are lower at rents of £2,148 and £1,924 a month.

Dr John Boyle, economist at Rettie & Co and a spokesman for pressure group PRS 4 Scotland, said: “The numbers quoted by Zoopla highlighting rental yields across the UK might encourage those looking to introduce rent controls in Scotland, but in reality the picture is quite fragile.

“We need a continuous supply of high quality rental accommodation to meet growing student demand, and while returns are good for those who have invested in buy-to-let in our university cities, investors and lenders perceive a far higher risk here than elsewhere in the UK.

“The prospect of rent controls without any balance in the form of tax or planning regulations to encourage investment is a huge cause for concern.

“Add to this the proposed new tenancy agreement, which will make a landlord unable to repossess a property at the end of a contract, and suddenly the reason to invest becomes even less compelling.

“We have a serious housing shortage in Scotland, and a strong, modern and sustainable rental market is essential.”

Meanwhile, Your Move reports that rents in Scotland dropped in August, in the first monthly fall since January, while arrears grew to 12.2% of all rent due.

Brian Moran, of Your Move, said that rent controls “will end up being more of a hindrance than a help to tenants if landlords are dissuaded from investing in the private rented sector as a result.”

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