ARL response to the publication of the Housing (Scotland) Bill

28 March 2024 – The Housing (Scotland) Bill has been published. The Association for Rental Living (ARL) comments:

“The urgency of the housing crisis is clear in the headlines and evidenced by the Government’s own figures however, this Bill does not deal with the central and critical need to deliver more homes, addressing the acute shortage of homes in Scotland, and will only exacerbate the problem. 

“This Bill has the intended aim of improving the affordability, security, and quality of housing for tenants in Scotland. However, the ARL has concerns that it will, in fact, have quite the opposite impact to those stated.

“It is not a housing delivery Bill but a tenants’ rights Bill. Seeking to control rents misses the point.  We need to massively increase housing supply to reduce the pressure on rent levels – it is a supply and demand issue.

“We are simply not constructing an adequate number of homes to rent for our growing needs. The Scottish Government has slashed its home building budget by 27% over the span of two years. This, combined with 28% of Scots being in some kind of housing need means we have a real threat of breaking the housing sector across all tenures.

“In principle, the ARL opposes rent cap in any form. Such controls lower investor confidence and inhibit the ability to deliver customer, community and investor value. Institutional investors in Build to Rent (BTR) invest for the long term, for stable returns, and if rent control is in play, it can disrupt and harm the certainty of those returns.

“A number of investors, which have successfully invested in BTR in Scotland, have put further schemes on hold or abandoned them altogether – around £2.5 billion of investment is now viewed as at risk. National and international research also highlights the negative impacts on supply due to strict rent restrictions.

“Housing Minister Paul McLellan has been tireless in his consultation process, and no one can fault him in his efforts to engage with the sector. However, it is disheartening to see that this Bill fails to reflect the extensive engagement that has taken place, with the legislation seemingly disregarding the input of stakeholders such as those within the BTR sector and ARL membership through its dedicated Scottish Hub.

“Despite our concerns not being evidenced in the Bill, we look forward to continuing to engage constructively and creatively to provide the information needed so that the Members of the Scottish Parliament, in whose hands the fate of those needing new homes now lies, can debate the Bill from an informed position.”

Brendan Geraghty, CEO, the Association for Rental Living (ARL)

Gillian McLees, Chair, ARL Scottish Hub and Vice Chair of SPF Investment and Management Committee.