New report shows a rise in homeless applications from the private rented sector

Written by Kate Shannon on 7 January 2015 in News

Shelter Scotland released new figures

Scotland has seen a sharp rise in the number of homeless applications coming from the private rented sector, according to a new report.

The piece of work for Shelter Scotland acknowledges that homeless applications in Scotland have decreased by 34 per cent in the past five years.

However, the charity said the headline statistics don’t tell the full story.

According to the report, 18 per cent of all homeless applications now come from the private rented sector. Shelter Scotland said this a proportionate rise of 38 per cent in the last five years. 

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “While the headline figures show that homelessness applications are down by one third in the last five years - which is welcome - our analysis shows it is not all good news for homeless people in Scotland.

“The 36,457 households making homeless applications, a youth homelessness rate at 13.7 per 1000 – over double the rate for over 25s - and a rising proportion of homeless applications from the private rented sector signal that, although there are movements in the right direction, there is still a long way to go.”

Our analysis shows it is not all good news for homeless people in Scotland

The report, Homelessness in Scotland 2014 – Getting Behind the Statistics also said the number of households found intentionally homeless by their local authority had risen, while the proportion of homeless applications from single people over 25 years old is rising compared with other age groups.

Brown continued: “With the significant weakening of the welfare state in recent years, it is more important than ever to ensure that vulnerable households are offered support before they are pushed into crisis.  For those who do find themselves without a home, a strong housing safety net should be there to provide the services, advice and information they need to help build a pathway out of homelessness.”

Green MSP Patrick Harvie, whose Rent Rights campaign is pushing for greater protection for private sector tenants, believes these figures highlight the fact that a lack of social rented housing, and the costs involved in becoming an owner-occupier, means for many private rented housing is the only option.

He said: "If we regulated it we could push out some of the worst elements, something good landlords and agencies should welcome. I want to see greater security of tenure, considered standard in many other countries, rather than short term leases, and we must explore measures to tackle rising rental costs. The Government also needs to act on the supply side, and build more homes."

Scottish Labour housing spokesman Michael McMahon MSP said the increase shows the need to reform the market to make it work for tenants. 

 “Scottish Labour want to ban rip off rent rises, but when we proposed this in Holyrood the SNP joined forces with the Tories to block the policy and stood up for bad landlords rather than offering security and peace of mind to tenants across Scotland,” he added.



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