Landlords should consider tenants’ ability to pay rents in the long term, according to the Scottish Housing Regulator.
George Walker, chair of the Scottish Housing Regulator, spoke out at the recent Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations’ (GWSF) annual conference about the effects on inflation on tenant finances. The speech called for more cost transparency and expressed a need for open dialogue regarding finances between landlords and tenants. This is mutually beneficial, in that it ensures both parties know where they stand in terms of affordability and avoiding late payment.
Citing feedback from the Regulator’s National Panel of Tenants and Service Users he explained that two thirds of the panel have expressed concern about future rent affordability.
He said: ‘You’ll know that inflation rose recently to 3 per cent, the highest rate for more than five years. Most tenants in employment have seen earnings rise at rates either below inflation or indeed, not at all. Tenants on benefits have had to manage freezes on the uplift in benefit rates and the introduction of caps.’
Outlining the expectation thus placed upon landlords, he continued: ‘We look for you to consider tenants’ ability to keep paying rent in the longer term when setting rents. You should demonstrate transparency on costs and a vigorous pursuit of value for money to us and to tenants. We expect you to give tenants genuine options and choices during rent consultations and have a dialogue about costs versus service levels. Be clear on how you will take tenants’ views into account. And vitally, be clear on what is affordable for your tenants now and in the future.’
Also included in the speech was a commendation to delegates on the achievements of community-led housing organisations. Mr Walker also described the Regulator’s forthcoming review of its regulatory framework. Plans to provide for tenant and resident safety were discussed, as well as empowering tenants, homelessness issues, and the need for strong, effective governance.