The Election is Over – What Now? 1st Jun 2015

The dust is beginning to settle on the 2015 UK General Election so it is a good time to have a look at what the outcome of the Election might mean for the Private Rented Sector (PRS) in Scotland.

Arguably, the UK General Election should not really affect housing in Scotland because housing is a devolved matter, so politically Holyrood sets and implements the policies that affect the PRS in Scotland. This should mean that things carry on as they are.
On one hand this is true. The Scottish Government’s current PRS sector key policies will continue apace. These include the strengthening of landlord regulation, the requirement for letting agents to be regulated from 2016 (our personal favourite), the introduction of greater environmental and safety requirements, the impact of the new Land & Buildings Transaction Tax, tenancy agreement reform and potentially rent caps. These will all continue unaffected by the UK General Election.

However, on the other hand, the UK General Election has the potential to have a large impact on the big picture things that affect the PRS in Scotland. These include:

  • How fast the economy grows.
  • The extent of benefit cuts and the amount of action the Scottish Government takes to negate these cuts as they did with the bedroom tax.
  • Whether inheritance tax is cut or not as if it is then there will be more money to hand down between generations.
    Whether we vote to remain in Europe or not.
  • The degree of additional fiscal autonomy that Scotland gets.

Ultimately, however, we need to keep coming back to the ‘elephant in the room’ issue - overall demand for housing is massively out-stripping overall supply at the moment. To solve this imbalance we need to build more housing stock in Scotland, as if we don’t then the government will introduce more policies that stop the market working efficiently or sensibly, like rent controls. The level of housing stock in Scotland has not been affected by the 2015 UK General Election – here’s hoping the 2016 Scottish Election may help with this.