Rents ‘need a fair deal’

Mark Griffin MSP

Mark Griffin MSP

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While most people who currently rent their home would ultimately like to buy a property, it seems optimism about turning this ambition into reality is falling.

Meanwhile Central Scotland MSP Mark Griffin (pictured above) is calling for what he sees as a fair deal for private renters – arguing that if Labour proposals to cap rents were approved around 6,000 households in Lanarkshire would benefit.

His concern comes at the same time as a study of Royal Mail’s redirection service, which found that just over a third of renters surveyed in Scotland are more optimistic about buying their ownv home compared to last year,

But this represents a 16 per cent fall compared with six months earlier, coincidentally around the time the Financial Conduct Authority introduced a tightening of mortgage lending rules. Renters also identified being unable to find the right property, not earning a enough to qualify for a mortgage, or concern about making the repayments as reasons not to buy.

With the private rental market set to remain hugely important across Lanarkshire (which is the UK’s largest social housing landlord, but unable to cater for everyone who needs a council property) Mark Griffin is calling for a new and better deal for private tenants - and argues Labour plans could have made a difference had they not been blocked by the SNP and the Conservatives.

Supporting housing action group Shelter’s present campaign, he said: “There are over 6,000 households renting privately in the North Lanarkshire council area.

“Many of whom are trapped in the private rented sector, unable to access social housing or get on the property ladder.

“Stability and fair rent is at the heart of Shelter’s ‘Make Renting Right’ campaign. “Scottish Labour’s Housing Act earlier this year would have made a difference for people feeling the stress of a cost of living crisis.
“By capping rent increases, and limiting how often rent prices could be reviewed, we could have given that stability and security to families in Cumbernauld & Kilsyth.” 
“The SNP voted with the Tories against a fairer deal for private tenants in Scotland. “They were wrong to do so. We must make renting more affordable. People locally and across Scotland deserve a home, not just a roof over their heads.”

Another report appears to show less poverty among people in social housing than a decade ago while a quarter of people in private rents are in poverty – whereas it used to be one in ten.

Meanwhile there are concerns about the wide variance in quality of the property made available through the private centre, with a minority of landlords apparently able to gain rent via benefit for obviously substandard homes. At the other end of the scale housing provider Sanctuary is steadily moving many existing tenants into superior accommodation, with the decommissioning of old tower blocks, and North Lanarkshire Council is also embarked on an ambitious course of newbuilds.

But it seems some who might ordinarily have found a place on the owned property ladder can no longer afford to do so, and that elements of the private rented centre badly need tighter regulation.