Writing may be on the Wall in near future for Scotland’s aspiring second home owners
Written in black and white in the Housing to 2040 Route Map are several radical propositions of which all homeowners and second homeowners should make themselves aware. The writing is on the wall now for a dramatic alteration to the private housing sector in Scotland which will likely affect everyone.
Housing for all will take precedence over second homes. It is expected that the local authority may have the power to say who can have a second home and where: “We will give all local authorities powers to manage the numbers of second homes where they see this as a problem in their area. And we will establish a new fund for local authorities to apply to in order to bring empty homes and potential empty homes back into residential use.
“We will provide tools and powers for local authorities to make best use of existing housing stock, including long and short-term empty homes and voids, second homes, short-term lets and student accommodation.”
Housing stock in rural communities has long been an issue, affected by second homes, short term lets, and planning restrictions. Great strides have been made in certain areas to reverse these trends, not least permitted development rights which came into force in April, Rural Housing grants, local authority control and the Short-term Lets Licensing Scheme controlled by local authorities across Scotland, which has already been implemented in some areas.
Those with empty properties may already be facing 100% surcharges on their Council Tax and should also be wary of the threat of possession: “tackling the blight of empty homes by bringing them into use and, where possible, into the social rented sector”.
Private Landlords who may already be exhausted by the endless costs of compliance should be aware that the Private Residential Tenancy (PRT) system is under review currently, with more changes likely to come as soon as September: “We will improve accessibility, affordability and standards across the whole rented sector, publishing a new Rented Sector Strategy, informed by tenants, and bringing forward a new Housing Bill early in the next Parliament to strengthen tenants’ rights.”
Whilst it cannot be denied that certain changes in defence of tenants have been welcomed, there needs also to be representation and protection for landlords. The proposed further extension to the ban on enforcement of eviction orders is being widely contested by landlords and letting agents across Scotland who have worked tirelessly with tenants throughout the pandemic to sustain tenancies in often difficult circumstances.
Daryl McIntosh, Policy Manager for ARLA Propertymark, said: “If the Scottish Government is successful in extending the emergency Covid measures, which protect tenants from eviction, until September 2022 landlords may never benefit from being able to use mandatory grounds for possession again.
“The extension may allow enough time for a full review of the PRT and the introduction of the Housing Bill that will establish those promised rights for tenants. If this is the agenda there must be a plan in place to guarantee sufficient housing is available to replace those properties, they are undoubtedly going to lose from the private rented sector.”
The proposals in Scotland are encouraging many to leave the private rental sector. However social housing alone will not suffice. There is a market for PRT. Sensible and fair governance, representing both Landlord and Tenant can resolve this, by putting into writing, a better representation of what our society wants and needs.
Jennifer Campbell is Head of Estate Agency in DM Hall Baird Lumsden, the specialist rural department of DM Hall Chartered Surveyors.