Scotland’s growing ranks of private tenants need rents which are stable, predictable and affordable to make the private rented sector fairer, a leading charity has warned.
Shelter Scotland made the call as the Scottish Government published latest figures for the private rented sector showing rents in the sector varied widely depending on which local authority area tenants reside.
While 16 of 18 market rental areas show rent levels have remained below inflation, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire show average rents for all property sizes have increased well above inflation while Lothian shows increases for one, two and three bedroom properties have been rising higher than inflation levels.
Renting a two bedroom property in Aberdeen/shire has increased by 40% since 2010, with a 17% increase in Lothian.
Graeme Brown, Shelter director, said the figures prove that for tenants, particularly those living in Lothian and Aberdeenshire, the sector is ripe for reform.
We want to see a sector that thrives and is a positive experience for both tenant and landlord - Graeme Brown
“We want to see a sector that thrives and is a positive experience for both tenant and landlord, where rents are stable, rent rises are predictable and where families can put down roots in their community,” he said.
“The private rented sector plays an increasingly important role in the housing market, which is in a major crisis caused by a chronic shortage of homes.”
The Scottish Green Party said the figures proved targeted private rent restrictions were needed in areas under extreme pressure for housing.
Patrick Harvie, Green MSP, has been running a Rent Rights campaign this year, calling for a better deal for private tenants.
With the private rented sector now accounting for an eighth of all homes in Scotland, Harvie said reform was needed to tackle rent inequality.
He said: "I want to see a range of measures in the government's new housing bill to provide relief for private tenants.
“We do need a healthy rented sector, and that means supporting responsible landlords too, but there’s a very strong case for restricting the frequency and levels of rent increases."
Housing minister Margaret Burgess said the government was committed to making the private rented sector an attractive and affordable housing option for anyone who wishes to live in it.
“These statistics highlight wide variations in the rate of rent increases, with hotspots in the Lothian area and in Aberdeen, but modest rises, or even falls elsewhere.
“This is clearly good news for those tenants whose rents have risen at or below the rate of inflation, but a real problem for those affected by larger increases in the hotspot areas.
“Last month I launched the consultation on a new tenancy for the private rented sector, which recognises that rising rents are a problem in some areas and is inviting views on the issue.
“In addition to this we continue to work with the house building industry to deliver more new homes.”