Scottish private renters ‘happier’ than those in England and Wales

Rent Boards

Scotland’s rental culture is happier, friendlier and more settled than that south of the Border though it is still under threat from rental increases, according to new research.

A study by AXA Business Insurance found that more tenants rent as a matter of choice, and financial confidence is rising among those who don’t. Though the insurer has warned that fast rising rents could jeopardise the positive trend.

The study found that 45 per cent of tenants in Scotland rent as a matter of choice. Of these, 22 per cent say they find the tenant lifestyle offers them greater freedom, while a similar number name ease of relocation for job opportunities as the primary reason to rent.

Half of tenants still rent out of necessity, rather than choice, however. A third say they want to buy but have no prospect of doing so (down from 54 per cent three years ago); a further 17 per cent say they are saving for a deposit (up from 11 per cent in 2013).

Scottish tenants expect to rent for an average of 9.5 years in line with the overall British trend. They are generally happier at the prospect than English and Welsh tenants though: just 17 per cent say they are unhappy with the tenant lifestyle.

Relationships with landlords also tend to be warmer in Scotland: fewer than half of English tenants say they know their landlord well, compared to more than 70 per cent of Scots. Scots are also twice as likely to say their landlord has gone above and beyond for them – by redecorating at their request or including free services in their rent.

While Scottish tenants traditionally stay longer in each property, that does look set to change as rents continue to rise at a faster rate than in London. Eight in ten will shop around for a new property in the coming year, citing rising prices as the primary reason.

Two thirds of Scottish tenants will also migrate to another region of the country or overseas within five years. Edinburgh is the most unsettled location: just three in ten of the city’s current tenant population will still be there in 2020.

Darrell Sansom, managing director at AXA Business Insurance, said: “Scottish tenants tend to know their landlords and are more comfortable with the idea of renting. More Scots are renting out of choice than necessity, and are using the opportunity to follow job opportunities. Edinburgh, in particular, emerges as a ‘stepping stone town’, where tenants stay for a short while to boost their careers and incomes, before settling where house prices are cheaper.

“The concern is that more tenants are choosing to move on, not for opportunities, but in response to rising rents. We know rents have increased faster in Scotland than other parts of the country with equivalent income levels. And this is a threat to Scotland’s happier and friendlier rental culture.

“As an insurer on this market, we know that when tenants have to move on constantly, it brings insecurity to both sides in the agreement. Tenants are less able to put down roots in one place, and have less financial security. Landlords, meanwhile, rarely benefit from short-term increases, if it means they have a high turnover of tenants – with all the disruption, uncertainty of income and increased wear and tear that it brings.”

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