Land agent, Catherine Smith, warns of an impending housing crisis for those living and working in Scotland’s rural areas.

Private rental property numbers have depleted in rural Scotland with the introduction of legislation around maintenance and testing standards, energy efficiency and the new Private Rented Tenancy (PRT).   While these new regulations provide greater security for tenants themselves, they are driving up costs for landlords – which could leave the countryside property landscape looking bleak.

There is an ongoing requirement for people to live and work in the countryside and a greater need for rental property than ever in the current housing climate.Despite the obvious positives that have come from stricter legislation around renting property privately, it may leave the rural areas of Scotland worse off in the long run.  The PRT has reduced the flexibility of rental property, which is absolutely key for some farms and estates that require homes for employees.

Another pressing problem for rural rentals is the upcoming changes to Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) standards.  Although staggered, from March 2025, all let properties must have a minimum rating of band D, which will almost certainly require work to most, if not all traditional rural properties.

Other options instead of renting out a property could include selling or diversifying to a holiday home but both of these options would deprive the countryside of locally-based individuals to drive the economy and may not suit estate or farm owners.

Despite the obvious challenges for landlords, Bell Ingram can provide help and guidance to those confused by the raft of new legislation.   There is no one option that will work for all estates or farms and a full assessment of the surplus residential properties should be completed before making any decisions on the best way to move forward.

We’re still yet to understand the full implications of changing EPC standards too.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing to improve the housing; it protects and maintains for the future but can be challenging when imposed with a deadline for completion.

Published on 13th December 2018