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Landlords play vital role in helping tenants create a home, say experts

2 February 2021

Row of typical English terraced houses in West Hampstead, London with a To Let sign outside stock image

A new study from UK housing experts has found that landlords play a significant role in tenants’ ability to feel ‘at home’.

The report, co-authored by Dr Jenny Hoolachan from Cardiff University and led by Dr Kim McKee of the University of Stirling, includes seven recommendations landlords and letting agents should carry out to support their tenants.

SafeDeposits Scotland Charitable Trust funded the research, which also includes new guidance for the Private Rented Sector. It says landlords should invest in property quality, carry out repairs quickly and well, not discriminate against potential renters who rely on benefits, and be open to families with children or those with pets.

Dr Jenny Hoolachan, based in Cardiff University’s School of Social Sciences, said: “Although this research has a Scottish focus, the key messages are highly relevant for the private rental sector across the UK nations.

“In the current climate where we are all being encouraged to stay at home, it’s vital that tenants can feel safe and comfortable and this study highlights the role that private landlords have to play in supporting the wellbeing of their tenants.”

Dr Kim McKee, a Senior Lecturer in Housing and Social Policy at the University of Stirling, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the need for everyone to have not just a roof over their heads, but to live in a property that feels comfortable and does not cause them stress. After reviewing the research evidence, we produced a guide outlining the seven most important things that landlords should think about to help tenants feel at home and in turn, support their wellbeing.”

The research project, ‘Making a House a Home in the Private Rented Sector’ was also supported by Dr Steve Rolfe, of the University of Stirling and Dr Tom Simcock and Julie Feather from Edge Hill University. The team reviewed two-decades worth of research during the 10-month study.

The private rented sector in Scotland has grown significantly since the 2007 Global Financial Crisis and now makes up one in every seven households. The sector has also become increasingly diverse, with more low-income households and families with children renting privately, while tenants are also renting privately for longer periods.

John Duff, Chairman of the SafeDeposits Scotland Charitable Trust, said: “We recognise the importance to everyone that tenants fully embrace their selected house as their home, and are delighted to have supported this important work by Dr McKee at the University of Stirling and her colleagues.”

SafeDeposits Scotland Charitable Trust is a grant giving charity designed to promote education, training and best practice in Scotland's private rented sector - launched in 2016, and has provided more than £640,000 of funding towards projects in Scotland.

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