Almost a third of Scots who rent their homes were struggling to make payments before the cost of living crisis, research has found.
Meanwhile, 36 per cent said they had experienced some form of dispute with their landlord or letting agent and 25 per cent said landlords had not carried out necessary repairs. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) carried out the research, exploring reforms which people on low incomes in the private rented sector want to see.
A survey of private tenants was carried out by YouGov in November 2021 as part of the research, which spoke to 1,012 people.
Nearly a third (30%) of those surveyed were already finding it difficult to pay their current rent, rising to 41% of households earning below £25,000 a year. Poor property conditions were particularly an issue for lower-income renters, with 30% of low-income renters saying they had significant issues with mould or damp in the property in comparison to 23% of renters who were not on a low income.
The research team worked with groups of tenants to identify 20 things they wanted to change in the rental market. These included lower costs, better quality homes and strict time limits for repairs.
Earlier this month, the Scottish Government pledged emergency legislation to freeze rents across the country in response to the cost of living crisis.
Deborah Hay, senior policy adviser for JRF in Scotland said: “Even before the recent cost-of-living crisis, tenants in this study were calling for urgent action to boost the supply of good quality, low-cost homes and offer tenants a fairer deal.
“So, while we await further detail about how the proposals will work in practice, we welcome the Scottish Government’s intention to limit rent increases, boost cash support for those struggling and ensure no one is evicted for being poor this winter.
“Done well, these measures could offer valuable breathing space for those facing exceptional hardship this winter. We recognise the challenges a rent freeze present for the housing sector.
“But it cannot be right to leave those on the lowest incomes to face further cost pressures, many of whom are already going without essentials, when we can step in to help.
“We must see all the key stakeholders get together round the table as a matter of urgency.”
Tenants’ Rights Minister Patrick Harvie said: “In our New Deal for Tenants consultation over the last year we recognised that private tenants’ experience of renting varies hugely.
“Some tenants have a very positive experience with good quality housing provided by responsible landlords. But, equally, there are other tenants, especially on lower incomes, where the outlook is much less positive. And that was before the current cost crisis.
“That is why the New Deal sets out a range of proposals to raise quality and standards in renting – aiming to make sure all tenants enjoy a good experience and recognising the good work of those landlords who provide it.”
He continued: “Our emergency legislation, which we aim to publish very soon, puts Scotland far ahead of anywhere in the UK in responding to the hardship which many tenants face.”
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