Private Rented Sector Stakeholder Engagement Group minutes: October 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the Private Rented Sector Stakeholder Engagement Group on 12 October, 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Anna Gardiner (SLE)
  • Aoife Deery (CAS)
  • Callum Chomczuk (CIH)
  • Caroline Elgar (SAL)
  • David Melhuish (SPF)
  • Emma Saunders (Living Rent)
  • Gordon Maloney (Living Rent)
  • Rhiannon Sims (Crisis Scotland)
  • Timothy Douglas (Propertymark)
  • Scottish Government officials

Items and actions


The Chair welcomed attendees to the fifth meeting of the PRS Stakeholder Engagement Group.

Actions and minutes from previous meeting

Minutes from the previous meeting were issued prior to this meeting and were agreed.

Discussion of amended Terms of Reference

The proposed amended Terms of Reference, issued to members on 09 October 2023, were agreed with no further comments.

Feedback and discussion on stakeholder engagement questionnaire

Members were invited to give initial feedback and views on the Landlord and Tenant Engagement Questionnaire on Rented Sector Reform, which launched on 29 September, and will be open until 27 October 2023.

Members raised the following points about the consultation as a whole, on behalf of their membership/clients:

SPF members felt that the questionnaire was too constrained, and asked whether written responses would be taken into account.

SLE members were concerned that the questionnaire didn’t knowledge that all respondents may not support rent controls, and felt that different framing may have made it easier for respondents to respond more helpfully.

Crisis Scotland welcomed the fact that there was a questionnaire and that consultation on proposals was being carried out. They felt that the closed questions didn’t allow for nuance, and therefore that the questionnaire was not as useful for gathering the views of policy professionals, who would ideally want to give more detail. At the same time, they were concerned that only policy literate tenants would be able to engage with the questions.

SAL expressed concerns that, although they are encouraging their members to respond, the way the questionnaire is worded may impact on the number who responded, and that they would hope to see this reflected in the analysis.

CAS are making clients aware of the questionnaire, but were concerned that some clients would lack the digital access or literacy to access it for themselves, and asked whether postal hardcopy responses could be accepted.

Living Rent expressed concerns that the survey may be inaccessible for tenants, and required policy knowledge and time to complete which may not be available to tenants. They asked for more detail on how the responses would be interpreted in the light of that.

Officials responded to the queries raised:

  • the intention is that written responses provided separately to the main questionnaire will be considered in the analysis along with responses to the questionnaire questions
  • only written responses from organisations would be published, and only with their consent
  • it is unfortunately only possible to accept electronic submissions in this instance, due to the timescales for analysis
  • the Scottish Government recognises the complexity of the issues under consideration, and the concerns raised about accessibility of the questions for tenants. Officials are willing to offer assistance to talk people through the questionnaire if this would be helpful
  • the questionnaire will be analysed by external analysts. The intention is that any written views provided will be weaved in with the quantitative analysis of the closed questions

The following specific queries were raised in relation to the content of the questionnaire:

  • Is it possible to give a timescale for the proposed legislation?

The timing of the proposed Bill is for the Scottish Parliament to decide, so it is unfortunately not possible to give definitive timescales at this time.

  • Regarding the proposals for local authorities to collect data and assess conditions in relation to rent in their local area, there is a concern that this could cause different local authorities to choose different systems of data collection, comparable to the different approaches taken by local authorities to short term lets. Will this be uniform across Scotland?

The intention is for local authorities to undertake a mandatory screening process as a first stage, followed by more detailed assessment, if this is applicable, for example, covering potential hotspots. The Scottish Government is currently exploring a possible power for local authorities to gather rental and tenancy information, to support this, and acknowledges that consistency will be important in any data collection activity. This would include standardising the data gathering, and this would be developed more widely at a future point, and the intention would be to consult more widely then. 

  • Noting that some matters covered in the New Deal consultation, such as damages for illegal eviction and amendments to rent adjudication, are not included in the questionnaire, does the questionnaire cover all areas which are likely to be covered in the proposed Housing Bill?

The questionnaire is focussing in on particular areas where the Scottish Government wanted to gather more detail; the proposals on illegal evictions, for example, have not changed substantially since the previous engagement around the New Deal consultation. However, we are very happy to receive comments on other areas not covered in the questionnaire if members wish to submit these.

Local Authority Pathfinder exercise regarding the mandatory screening process for considering rent conditions in a Local Authority area

An update was given to members:

  • officials continue to engage with members of the Local Authority Working Group
  • there has been exploration of possible ‘pathfinder’ exercises with some local authorities, on a one-to-one basis. These would be an opportunity to explore data, resources and processes around data gathering on rents and tenancies in local authority areas
  • the aim is to engage with a variety of local authorities, some urban, some rural, and early discussions have been carried out with several different local authorities with a view to considering next steps
  • whilst there are no specific data gathering powers in place for this currently, this is something which is being explored, both through the Local Authority Working Group and the one-to-one meetings

Any other business

Members asked:

  • Are there plans for further engagement besides the questionnaire?

The Scottish Government will reflect on the feedback from the questionnaire once this comes in, and consider further once this is available.

  • Will the next meeting of the Group include further information on the transition out of the Cost of Living measures?                                                      

The agenda for the next meeting hasn’t been decided yet, but the transition out of the emergency measures is something which officials will definitely seek to discuss with the group in due course.

  • What will happen with the feedback on the questionnaire given in the course of this meeting?   

The Scottish Government will reflect on these issues and on ways to capture feedback in written representations.

No further business was raised. It was emphasised that the closing date for the questionnaire, including written submissions, is 27 October 2023.


  • officials to circulate a PDF of the questions from the stakeholder engagement questionnaire, and confirm the email address which members can use for other written responses
  • officials will look into providing more information for Group members on the planned analysis of questionnaire responses and how the points raised will be taken into account
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