Rental prices during coronavirus outbreak ‘show housing market is deeply broken’

Living Rent has seen a rise in short-term lets becoming long-term lets during the pandemic Credit: Jane Barlow/PA

Signs of change in Scotland’s housing market and rental prices amid the Covid-19 outbreak show “how deeply broken” the system is, according to a tenants’ union.

Tenants’ union Living Rent has reported holiday lets increasingly being put up as long-term rentals as tourism dries up during the pandemic – often at rates “significantly below” the market average.

And it has called for emergency measures to be introduced to protect tenants from rogue landlords who may seek to rent out properties without correct licensing.

Fundamentally, we need a housing market that puts people above profit

Gordon Maloney

Gordon Maloney from Living Rent said: “We’re hearing and seeing lots of examples of flats that had previously been holiday lets or Airbnbs being put up as normal rentals as tourism dries up during the pandemic, often at rates quite significantly below the market average.

“The coronavirus pandemic has underlined just how deeply broken our housing market has become.

“It is important that we secure emergency measures to protect tenants at this time but once this is over it is equally important that we not simply return to normal.”

He added: “While we are now seeing hundreds of thousands of tenants facing poverty at the same time, the truth is that this has been happening to individuals for years.

“If we had not allowed the situation to get as out of control as it is, the current crisis for renters would be much more manageable.

“Fundamentally, we need a housing market that puts people above profit.

“That means rent controls and protection from eviction, it means strict limits on holiday lets, and it means more social housing.”

He said tenants should not be in a position where they are “trapped” self-isolating in “unsafe, substandard homes with rogue landlords flouting the law”.

It comes after the Scottish Government announced plans to impose a six-month ban on evictions of tenants in private rented accommodation.

Ministers are to outlaw evictions for everyone living in properties rented privately or social housing due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said they will use emergency powers granted under the Coronavirus Bill to prevent people from losing their homes.