It's time to jail criminal landlords
Deposits withheld, extortionate fees and glacial-pace repairs; the all too common experience of renting a flat in Scotland. On short term tenancies and seldom aware of their rights private tenants, young people are routinely exploited by dodgy landlords and parasitic agencies. Ever since Thatcher’s “Right to Buy”, cheap social housing provided by local councils has been in decline. This in turn has forced young people, along with other vulnerable groups in society such as immigrants, in to the clutches of the private rented sector with little protection.
Of course theoretically such protection exists, the private rented sector is supposed to be regulated via numerous systems such as compulsory landlord registration. Somewhat predictably however Scottish councils have opted for “light-touch” regulation, generally translating as no regulation at all.
The benefits of this “light-touch” can be seen in Edinburgh, where no Landlord has ever been deregisted, in spite of some carrying criminal convictions for offences against tenants. Letting agents are also taking advantage of the system, many are charging illegal fees to tenants, a practice that has become so widespread that most don’t even question them.
So what can we do about it? Whilst activists in Glasgow have taken direct action against illegal fees, tenants in Edinburgh are also getting organised. Edinburgh Private Tenants Action Group (EPTAG) is preparing to launch a campaign to pressure the council into deregistering criminal landlords, sending a signal out to the rest of the industry that they need to raise their game.
The situation for young tenants today is bad, but if we stand together and fight for better, we can change this.
Come along to EPTAG’s campaign launch meeting on March 8th at 7 PM at Old Saint Paul’s Church, Jeffrey St, near Waverley.