Rented sector reform: landlord and tenant engagement questionnaire - analysis report

Analysis of responses to the landlord and tenant engagement questionnaire on proposals for rented sector reform.

1: Introduction

This report presents an analysis of responses to a digital questionnaire asking private and social rented sector landlords and tenants questions on rental sector reform to inform development of legislation to deliver A New Deal for Tenants through a Housing Bill.


Housing to 2040 sets out a vision for what the Scottish Government wants homes and communities to look and feel like for the people in Scotland, no matter where they live and what point in their life they are at. It is a vision where homes are affordable for everyone, where standards are the same whether you rent or own your home, where homes have easy access to green spaces and essential services and where homelessness, child poverty and fuel poverty have been eradicated.

Critical to achieving this vision will be to improve the quality, affordability and fairness of the rented sectors. We know that the rented sector provides homes for large numbers of families and individuals across the country, so to help deliver a successful and quality sector for tenants across Scotland, Housing to 2040 included a commitment to publish a Rented Sector Strategy.

In December 2021, the Scottish Government opened a public consultation on proposals to deliver a new deal for tenants. The Scottish Government consultation paper invited views on delivering A New Deal for Tenants, which aims to ensure all tenants, whether living in private or social rented homes, can access secure, stable, tenancies, with affordable choices – whilst also benefiting from good quality of homes and professional levels of service and rights.

The consultation invited views on a wide range of topics including rent controls, personalisation of a rented home and reforms to the evictions process. The consultation closed on 15 April 2022 and an analysis of responses to the consultation was published in August 2022.

Affordable rents were a major focus of the 2022 consultation, with many respondents noting their opposition to any form of rent controls, and some raising concerns that rent controls have the potential to result in unintended consequences that could reduce supply. Others welcomed further consideration of policy options, although sometimes arguing that increasing the supply of social housing is the most important change needed to support the right to adequate housing.

The need to ensure that rent control policy design anticipates potential adverse impacts, incorporates appropriate enforcement, and can respond to local variation in market pressures was also highlighted. A very substantial majority of respondents thought that if any rent controls measures are to be introduced, they should apply across both social and private rented housing.

Other key findings from the 2022 consultation included that:

  • A very substantial majority agreed that the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 should be amended to ensure that all joint tenants can terminate their interest in a private residential tenancy without the agreement of other joint tenant(s).
  • In terms of allowing people to personalise their home, the most frequently made point was that, to achieve tenure blind housing outcomes and enshrine tenants’ rights, tenants should be able to redecorate their homes. However, some raised concerns, including that the landlord has no way of enforcing a requirement to return the property to the original state when the tenant moves out.
  • Those who supported allowing people to keep pets made similar points about embedding tenure-blind rights, although there were some concerns that pets can and have caused problems.
  • A substantial majority thought that additional protections against the ending of tenancies during the winter period are needed. Many of those who did not think additional protections are needed identified potential risks associated with their introduction or highlighted possible unintended consequences.

The New Deal for Tenants consultation was the primary route for consulting on possible changes. Having sought views on the broad principles proposed under A New Deal for Tenants, the Scottish Government has gone on to engage further with both landlords and tenants to shape the legislative changes to be introduced through a Housing Bill in this parliamentary session.

The analysis of the present, very targeted consultation exercise, carried out by questionnaire, will further inform the development of the Housing Bill. The questionnaire style approach was used to help focus on the policy options under consideration, rather than revisiting issues already covered in the 2022 consultation.

The questionnaire was accompanied by a paper on the current proposals, which is available on the Scottish Government’s website.

The questionnaire

The questionnaire opened on 29 September and closed on 27 October. It asked 36 closed questions, the first six of which asked for biographical information. The remaining 30 questions sought respondents’ views on a range of issues, including rent controls, ending joint tenancies, flexibility to personalise a home, keeping pets and greater protections during the evictions process.

In addition to the questionnaire, the Scottish Government explored interest in holding discussion groups for stakeholders, with events offered to members of the PRS Stakeholder Engagement Group. The initial intention had been to hold up to seven events but there was limited interest and only one Engagement Group stakeholder (Propertymark) took up the offer. In the end, two discussion groups were held, one with the PRS Stakeholder Engagement Group[4] and the other with members of Propertymark (a membership body for property agents). This does mean that the amount of supplementary qualitative data is more limited than had been anticipated when the questionnaire approach was devised.

Approach to the analysis

An Excel spreadsheet, containing all the responses to the questionnaire, was made available to the analysis team. Two responses were removed because they had no content. Respondents were not required to provide any identifying biographical information to accompany their response, meaning it was not possible to carry out any checks for multiple responses being submitted by the same respondent. The analysis of answers at the closed questions was undertaken in Excel.

The analysis team was also supplied with notes taken at the two discussion groups held, and a standard qualitative analysis, focusing on key themes, was carried out on this material.

This report sets out a question-by-question analysis of responses to the questionnaire, beginning with a section on the profile of respondents, followed by sections on each of the key policy areas covered.

Questionnaire respondents were asked to select one of nine respondent types and the results at the opinion questions (Questions 6 onwards) are largely broken down according to these groups. For the purposes of the analysis, respondents have been kept within the respondent type they selected. Answers at other questions, including the name of the organisation or relating to how many properties landlords have to rent, suggest that some respondents may not have selected the respondent type expected. However, given that the biographical information is limited – for example only around a third of organisations supplied their organisation name – it is not possible to carry out a complete and consistent reclassification exercise. For this reason, respondents have been left within the group they themselves selected. This does mean that a degree of caution must be exercised when interpreting the results.

The number within each respondent group ranges from 2,893 Private Rented Sector (PRS) landlords down to only 5 Social Rented Sector (SRS) tenant organisation respondents, and there are four groups with fewer than 100 respondents.

The variations in respondent group sizes are unsurprising and, to some extent, reflect the variation in overall numbers across the country/population. For example, there are many more private landlords than private landlord organisations, and there are many more SRS tenants than SRS tenant organisations. It should also be noted that the available routes for disseminating information about the questionnaire may have had an impact on the profile of respondents. For example, a link to the questionnaire was included in an email sent directly to all landlords on the Scottish Landlord Register, but there was no equivalent route for sharing information with tenants. This may explain, at least in part, the relatively high proportion of respondents taking a landlord perspective.

It should also be remembered that, as with any engagement exercise, the questionnaire respondents are a self-selecting sample, and their views cannot be taken as representative of their type of respondent or of the wider population. Individuals and organisations who have a keen interest in any given topic, who hold strong views, and who have the capacity to respond are more likely to take part in an engagement exercise than those who do not.

Given the dissemination routes available, the self-selecting sample and the low numbers of respondents in some groups (both in relative and absolute terms), the results set out in this report should be seen as indicative rather than significant. This applies particularly in terms of the proportions of each respondent group.

The results are presented through a mix of tables and charts, with a full set of tabular results set out in Annex A. The results are generally based on those answering the question only (i.e. they do not present the number who did not answer) and hence the base number of respondents will vary. Please note also that percentages may not always sum to 100% due to rounding.

The main focus is on the results from the questionnaire but, where appropriate, the feedback from the two stakeholder discussion groups may be referenced.

General feedback on the questionnaire

As noted above, the questionnaire asked closed questions only and this was raised as a concern by some of those attending the stakeholder discussion groups. In summary, the concerns included that the closed question only format did not allow for a nuanced response and did not allow stakeholders to provide further information or commentary.

The other major concern was that the questionnaire questions did not give respondents an opportunity to object to the introduction of rent controls. An associated suggestion was that this could affect levels of interest from some sectors, and in particular that PRS landlords might be less inclined to take part.

There was also a concern that digital exclusion could be a factor and, in particular, that some tenants might be unable to take part. It was also suggested that the time required, including to engage with sometimes complex policy suggestions, could act as an additional barrier.



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