Final wave of research launched to unveil long-term impacts of Scottish tenancy reform

by Joshua Davies, Programme Manager for Transforming the Private Rented Sector

Indigo House, funded by the Nationwide Foundation, have today launched the final phase of research to learn about the experiences of tenants and landlords in the Scotland’s private rental market. 

The research forms part of the five-year RentBetter study, which seeks to understand whether and how private renting reforms introduced in Scotland since 2017 are having the desired impact on renters by increasing security of tenure, empowering tenants, protecting against excessive rent increases, and improving renters’ overall experience. This third and final wave of research seeks to answer fundamental questions including: 

  • What difference have the changes in the tenancy regime in Scotland made since 2017?  
  • What impact have rent controls in Scotland had? 
  • What else is still to be achieved, and how might the system be improved further? 

Through two waves of research to date in the past four years, RentBetter has built a clear evidence base of the differences between renters’ experiences living in the private rented sector before and after the new regulations were implemented. It also provides evidence on how landlords, local authorities, and support and advice agencies view the changes. 

As the Renters (Reform) Bill makes its way through the legislative process, the research from Scotland has particular relevance for English policymakers seeking to understand the impact of renting reform. 

Key findings from waves 1 and 2 of the RentBetter research: 

  • Local authorities need greater funding to enforce renters’ rights if low-income renters in particular are to be able to benefit from the tenancy reform. 
  • Renters on low incomes are much less satisfied than the private renting population at large. Many struggle financially and live in poor-quality homes, lacking choice and market power. 
  • Accessing decent, affordable accommodation that meets low-income households’ needs is challenging. When these households find somewhere suitable, they’re concerned about losing it, making them less likely to challenge landlords about substandard conditions. 
  • Tenants are more satisfied when they have a direct relationship with their landlords. 
  • Many renters are dissatisfied with the condition of their homes and have low levels of awareness about rights and expected standards. 
  • Housing stock in Scotland’s private rented sector appears to be reducing or at least remaining static, contributing to a significant imbalance between supply and demand.  
  • The types of landlords leaving the market are diverse, with portfolios of various sizes, and a range of reasons for exiting.  

Wave 3 will explore many of these issues in further depth, providing longitudinal evidence on the experiences of Scotland’s private renters and landlords as changes in the regulatory and wider landscape occur. This final research phase will involve a mix of methods and approaches, including data analysis and literature reviews, case studies, surveys with landlords and letting agents, and quantitative research. The final report will launch in mid-2024 and will bring together analysis and insights from all three research waves. 

More information and links to the findings from previous RentBetter research waves are available here. 

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