A good friend of mine, who has two young children, has been given two months’ notice on a flat which he has been renting for more than four years.
He has always paid the bills on time and never breached any terms of the lease.
It seems there is very little he can do about it. Tenants are being forced out of their homes, often into poverty, while house prices and a lack of social housing means there’s little alternative.
Progress is being made, in the form of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 which secured the policy of ending right to buy, brought in measures to protect tenants and introduced the PRS Housing Tribunal for the private sector.
The Scottish Government has committed to at least 30,000 affordable homes, of which at least two-thirds will be for social rent including 5,000 council houses during the lifetime of this Parliament.
According to the latest quarterly Consumer Confidence Tracker we are increasingly becoming more European in our attitude to housing, becoming a nation of renters.
But as demand increases, so do prices and rent rates are rocketing. In the last four years, for four bedroom properties, rent has gone up faster than average weekly earnings in 13 out of 19 rental areas in Scotland. In Aberdeen in the last four years rent has gone up by four times the average weekly earnings. This is unsustainable.
Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire are becoming unaffordable for many to live. This has a knock-on effect, making filling a shortage of 120 teachers difficult due to a lack of affordable homes.
This impacts young people and affects our ability to attract and retain talent.
We need a system where private housing tenants have similar rights to social housing and can’t be evicted unjustly. Tenants should not be subject to the whims of a landlord. Landlords have a social obligation to tenants.
The best solution is to keep on building more social and affordable homes but the private sector needs to function more like the socially rented sector. Affordable and secure housing is key to Scotland’s future and our economic success.