In the Scottish Government's discussion document Firm Foundations: The Future of Housing in Scotland, we announced that we planned to carry out a review of the private rented sector. There have been many important changes in the sector in recent years, and it was time to take stock of where private rented housing now stands. This review - possibly the most extensive study of the sector ever carried out in Scotland - has now been completed, and I am very pleased to be introducing the results of it.
The very fact that we have carried out this review reflects the importance that we attach to the private rented sector as one of the key sources of housing supply in Scotland - and one that has even greater potential for the future. The wealth of information that we have gathered on the views, experiences and characteristics of private tenants and landlords will help us to formulate our policies for the development of the sector to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.
The first volume of the review sets out the key findings from the evidence that has been gathered, and it also deals with the policy implications: what we have done, are doing, will do and will consider doing in response to the important issues that have been identified. This reflects the fact that the Scottish Government wants to engage with the private rented sector on a continuing basis. This is not just a matter of ensuring that the sector meets minimum acceptable standards of accommodation and management. In challenging economic conditions, we also want to help and encourage new and existing landlords to meet the demand for appropriate rented accommodation from a wide range of potential tenants, with varying needs and aspirations and in all parts of Scotland, urban and rural.
The Scottish Government also wants to play its part in supporting professionalism within the sector and making it more attractive and effective.
Local authorities also have a crucial role to play in supporting the private rented sector locally - whether at the strategic level, in planning for local housing need and demand; as a source of advice and assistance for tenants and landlords; as a regulatory body; or as a delivery partner. The review therefore includes a consideration of ways in which local authorities can work with private landlords, and other organisations, to perform these functions effectively, including a specific study of how local authorities can, where appropriate, help to bring privately-owned empty houses back into use.
I am sure that everyone with an interest in the private rented sector in Scotland will benefit from reading part, if not all, of the various reports and studies published as part of the review.
Minister for Housing and Communities