Longer private leases could help ease problems caused by credit crunch
27 August 2008
A new longer lease for renters should be considered as part of a wider review of the private sector in Scotland - and could help house people as the effects of the credit crunch continue.
Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, the housing and homelessness charity, will make the call for better security for people living in the private sector, when he makes his first public appearance as Director of the charity.
He will be speaking today (Wednesday) at the charity's third annual conference on the private rented sector in Scotland - 'Firm Foundations in Private Renting?' , which will look at the future of private renting. Stewart Maxwell, Minister for Communities and Sport, is also due to speak at the event, along with representatives from landlords, business organisations, and local authorities.
Graeme Brown said: 'For too long, tenants have had short term contracts that have short changed them on settling down and knowing they have a secure place to stay.
'The current system of six-month tenancies is 20 years old . We believe it should be looked at afresh - as part of a wider review of the sector - to see what appetite there is to increase tenancy lengths.
'We recognise that the short assured tenancy has a place for some people but we’re keen to look at something like the Republic of Ireland model , which allows for a six month settling in period, followed by the greater security of a fixed-term three and a half year lease.'
He added: 'This would be particularly useful at a time when housing is in short supply. With people finding it increasingly difficult to get a mortgage, invariably private renting will be seen as an option that may have to serve them in the longer term.'
Longer tenancies could help with Scottish Government plans to house people who are homeless in the private rented sector , according to the charity, which opposes a proposed one-year tenancy option.
'Scotland has an internationally acclaimed homelessness target to give everyone the right to a home by 2012. Housing people who are homeless in the private sector can help towards meeting that target. But we believe, along with other homelessness organisations, that a two to three year tenancy is a better option. We will continue to push for this as part of our Hometime Scotland campaign , which is aimed at ensuring we deliver on the 2012 target.'
Notes to editors
- For more information, visit http://scotland.shelter.org.uk/privaterenting or telephone Christina Cran, Media Officer, 0844 515 2442 (connects to out of hours).
- The Housing Scotland Act 1988 introduced both the Assured Tenancy and the Short Assured Tenancy. It is this shorter six-month tenancy that most people in private renting in Scotland have but it offers less security for tenants.
- The Republic of Ireland introduced the new scheme in 2004.
- The Scottish Government announced proposals earlier this year to house people who were homeless in the private rented sector. http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2008/06/23082541
- For more information, visit www.hometimescotland.org.uk
- Spokespeople are available for interview, telephone the media office on 0844 515 2442. An ISDN line number is available for broadcast interviews. For more information about Shelter visit www.shelter.org.uk