This week, housing charity Shelter made a call for England to adopt the same model used by Scotland for improving the private rental sector (PRS).
After recently abolishing so-called ‘no-fault’ evictions and fixed term tenancies, as well as banning fees and introducing rent controls, England is not far behind. The Tenant Fees Act 2019 came into force in June this year and the Government has acknowledged the call to scrap Section 21 evictions. Now, Shelter believes that indefinite tenancies should also be introduced, claiming that this change in Scotland has been a success.
However, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) believes that Shelter’s claims are misleading. The association points out that the charity is not comparing “like with like”, as the Scottish housing sector is very different from the one in England. Most importantly, it highlights that Scotland introduced a new housing tribunal before scrapping its own version of Section 21, which provided a method to deal with the increase in repossession cases.
The RLA feels that it is still too soon to draw conclusions from the progress in Scotland, with these changes only introduced 18 months ago, and that Shelter is using figures gathered from before they were put in place.
Shelter does acknowledge this within the report by stating: “Official data has a time-lag and there is only a small amount available which covers the period since the new tenancies were introduced in late 2017.”
Landlords, do you agree that England should wait longer to see more definitive results from Scotland, following their lead?
David Smith, policy director for the RLA, comments: “Shelter fails to recognise key differences between England and Scotland.
“The only reason the Scottish model has worked is because a properly funded and staffed housing court was established to cope with the dramatic increase in repossession cases needing to be heard.
“Across England and Wales, it takes an average of over five months for landlords to repossess properties through the courts. This is not good enough.
“We call on Shelter to back the RLA’s plans for a dedicated housing court that can process repossession claims in legitimate circumstances without frustrating landlords. Simply tinkering with the existing courts will not work.”
“It is also disappointing that in arguing that changes in Scotland have not affected the supply of homes for rent, Shelter has used figures from before the changes were introduced.
“As the latest data from the Royal Institution for Chartered Surveyors notes clearly, whilst the demand for new homes to rent has increased considerably in Scotland, new landlord instructions have fallen, providing less choice for tenants.”