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New Tenants of Scottish Local Authorities - Research Findings

DescriptionThe survey in this report was designed to complete the picture of new tenants for all the major public housing landlords and allow comparisons to be drawn between them.
ISBN
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateJanuary 27, 1999
Development Department Research Programme Research Finding No 35 (1997)
New Tenants of Scottish Local Authorities
Jeremy Hardln, The MVA Consultancy
ISBN 0-7480-6217-3Publisher The Scottish Office
The MVA Consultancy was commissioned to conduct a survey to establish the personal, household and housing characteristics of new tenants of Scottish local authorities. Information on new lettings of public housing in Scotland is routinely collected for Scottish Homes and housing association tenants. The survey was therefore designed to complete the picture of new tenants for all the major public housing landlords and allow comparisons to be drawn between them.
Main Findings
  • Local authorities and Scottish Homes housed a higher proportion of lone parents than housing associations. They also housed fewer older persons and single adults without children than housing associations.
  • A significantly higher proportion of new Scottish Homes tenants were unemployed (39%) when compared with new local authority (27%) and housing association tenants (28%). The Glasgow area had the highest rates of unemployment for new tenants of all landlords.
  • Nearly half of new local authority tenants had no home of their own prior to being housed. Nine per cent had owned or were buying their previous home.
  • Most new tenants of local authorities and housing associations gave overcrowding, medical/health reasons and wanting to live independently as their main reasons for moving.
  • About a third of all tenant types were homeless prior to taking up their tenancies.
  • Flats were most commonly allocated to new tenants. A higher proportion of new local authority tenants were housed in multi-storey properties.
  • Rent levels were similar for the 3 landlord types (median £31-£32 per week). Household income levels were also similar. Rents were highest in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Household Characteristics
Housing associations housed a higher proportion of older persons (27%) among their new tenants than local authorities (16%) or Scottish Homes (12%). They also housed a higher proportion of single adults without children (34%) than local authorities (28%) or Scottish Homes (20%). Local authorities (20%) and Scottish Homes (25%) housed a higher proportion of lone parents than housing associations (14%).
There were regional variations in the proportions among new tenants of different household structures housed by local authorities, housing associations and Scottish Homes. For example, 7% of new local authority tenants in the Lanarkshire and Central area were older persons compared with 33% of housing association tenants.
Economic Status
The economic status of new local authority and housing association tenants was broadly similar. A significantly higher proportion of new Scottish Homes tenants were unemployed (39%) when compared with new local authority (27%) and new housing association tenants (28%). Local authorities had a higher proportion of new tenants who were reported to be permanently sick (18%) when compared with new housing association tenants (7%). Regionally, proportions of local authority new tenants in work ranged from 17% in Glasgow through to 40% in Highlands and Islands and 42% in Fife.
Previous Tenure and Housing Circumstances
Around a quarter of new local authority tenants (24%) and housing association tenants (25%) previously rented from district councils. Almost a third of new Scottish Homes tenants previously rented their homes from a district council (30%).
New tenants were asked to give up to 3 main reasons for moving. Overcrowding, medical/health reasons and wanting to live independently were the main reasons given by new local authority and housing association tenants for moving. Nearly a third of the reasons for moving mentioned by Scottish Homes tenants were that they had moved by mutual exchange or voluntary transfer.
Twenty six per cent of new local authority tenants said they were registered as homeless prior to taking up the tenancy. Fewer of those housed by housing associations (10%) and Scottish Homes (14%) were statutorily homeless. The higher proportion of new local authority tenants who were statutorily homeless may be exaggerated as a result of self-reporting. In contrast, Scottish Homes and housing associations confirm with the local authorities if their new tenants were previously registered as statutorily homeless.

Homelessness

The highest levels of statutory homelessness amongst new local authority tenants were in Fife (43%) and Edinburgh, Lothian and Borders (40%). The lowest levels were in Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway and Highlands and Islands (16%).
Forty seven per cent of new local authority tenants who had been on waiting lists were housed or rehoused within one year. Lone parents (58%) followed by single adults (49%) and adults with children (48%) were the most Iikely to be housed within one year.
Housing Characteristics
A higher proportion of new local authority tenants were housed in multi-storey properties (9%) compared to new housing association tenants (2%). Housing associations showed the highest proportion of flats and Scottish Homes the highest proportion of houses.
Generally, Scottish Homes housed new tenants in the largest properties and housing associations in the smallest. For example, the majority of Scottish Homes new tenants (87%) were allocated properties with three or more apartments, whereas less than half of the new housing association tenants (45%) were allocated properties of this size.
Most new tenants of local authorities were housed in two or three apartment properties (72%).

Apartment Size

Rent, Income, and Housing Benefit
The median weekly rent was broadly similar for new tenants of all types (£31-£32 per week). Of local authority new tenants, older couples paid most (£34 per week) followed by two or more adults with children
(£33).
New local authority tenants in Glasgow and Edinburgh, Lothian and Borders were paying the highest median rents (£35 per week). The lowest median rents paid by new local authority tenants were in Grampian (£27 per week).
In the Highlands and Islands new local authority tenants were paying significantly less rent (median £29 per week) than Scottish Homes tenants (median £36 per week). In contrast, new IocaI authority tenants in Glasgow (median £35 per week) were paying more than new Scottish Homes tenants in Glasgow (median £29 per week).
A slightly higher proportion of new local authority tenant households (42%) had an income of less than £75 per week when compared with new housing association (37%) and new Scottish Homes tenants (34%). Otherwise, household income levels were broadly similar for tenants of all three landlord types.
About the Survey
The survey method was a postal survey of 9,590 new tenants of 54 of the pre-reorganisation district local authorities. A response rate of 40% (3,841 new tenants) was achieved after one postal reminder. New local authority tenants were defined as those who had taken up their tenancies between 1 January and 31 March 1995.
" New Tenants of Scottish Local Authorities ", the research report summarised in this Research Findings, may be purchased (price £5 per copy).
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This Research Findings may be photocopied, or further copies may be obtained from:
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