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SNP’s ‘anti-landlord’ policies drive investor exodus

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon

A record proportion of Scottish property investors are selling up in the face of “anti-landlord policies” imposed under Nicola Sturgeon.

Property investors now make up 12pc of all home sellers in Scotland, up from 10pc last year, according to estate agents Hamptons

This is the highest level since its records began in 2010.

While the landlord-sell off is slowing down in England and Wales, in Scotland it is accelerating.

Purchases by Scottish landlords have also fallen to a record low, at just 6pc of all sales – lower than in Wales or any region in England.

David Fell, of Hamptons estate agents, said rent controls brought in under the former first minister were a key factor driving the exodus, saying: “What was introduced as a temporary freeze in Scottish rents increasingly looks like a permanent one.

“And with the Scottish government consulting on extending rent control from within tenancies to between them, it’s likely to accelerate the shortage of rental homes.”

He said Scottish landlords with long-term tenants have only been able to pass on a fraction of their rising costs, such as higher mortgage rates, for more than a year.

Mr Fell added: “The longer the cap is in place, the wider the gap between what most tenants are paying and the market rate becomes, pushing more landlords into the red.

“These investors face the grim choice of covering a loss from their own pocket or selling up, leaving their tenants to try to find another home at a far higher rent.”

With more Scottish landlords already leaving the market than anywhere else in the country, the number of rental homes on the Scottish market stands 45pc below 2019 levels, compared to a 29pc drop in England.

John Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords, said the number of private rental properties would only grow as a result of the Scottish government’s “anti-landlord policies”, which include plans to make rent controls permanent.

He added: “With local authorities in Scotland declaring housing emergencies, the Scottish Government needs to have a major rethink of how it works with those in the private rented sector and develop a credible policy that is acceptable to the market and stops the decline in much needed rented accommodation.”

Elsewhere, the landlord sell-off is slowing down. Across Great Britain, the share of homes sold by a landlord has fallen from 16pc in 2022 to 14pc this year, Hamptons said. Investors are on course to sell 139,820 buy-to-lets across Great Britain in 2023, 53,000 fewer than in 2022 and 62,000 less than in 2021 when landlord sales peaked.

Meanwhile, separate data from property website Rightmove showed asking prices for homes dropped by 1.7pc (£6,088) this month – the largest November drop in five years.

Sales agreed are 10pc below 2019 levels and the “frenzied” market during the pandemic appears to have ended, Rightmove said.

The Scottish Government has defended its rent controls previously, saying its legislative changes had “led the way at a time when rents have been rising across the UK, stabilising rents to help tenants to stay in their homes”.

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