Scotland’s Renters Squeezed In More Ways Than One As Overcrowding Doubles

Shocking figures reveal that the number of overcrowded households in the private rented sector has doubled since 2012, and now stands at a staggering 23,000.


Housing is officially overcrowded when the number of bedrooms in a property are insufficient to meet the needs of a household. But analysis by Scottish Labour of the 2016 Housing report shows the problem worsening. Yearly reporting on this vital question of public health is sorely needed.

Overcrowding can have debilitating effects on health, with a particularly bad effect on children. A 2005 report on the health effects of overcrowding by Shelter demonstrated that 93% of tenants in these properties had higher rates of depression, greater anxiety, and increased rates of sleep deprivation. Children are also markedly more likely to develop asthma in overcrowded conditions.

Scottish Labour say that only a radical reform of the private rented sector can fix this problem. They say that the Mary Barbour law, named after the leader of the 1915 rent strikes, would radically increase minimum safety standards and tenants’ rights.

Scottish Labour’s housing spokesperson Pauline McNeill said:

“More and more of Scotland’s private renters are finding themselves squeezed into unsuitable accommodation. We cannot continue to ignore conditions in the fastest growing part of the housing sector.

“The private rented sector has grown dramatically in last 15 years but our laws haven’t kept pace to support tenants.

“Renting should be a secure and viable long term housing option, the means to live in a location that you choose and a way to save up for a deposit if you want to buy a home. However, for too many people it is none of these things.

“That’s why Labour is proposing a ‘Mary Barbour law’ to reform the private rented sector, so no one is overpaying for an overcrowded property.”

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