New study to reveal how landlords can support tenants to create ‘homes’

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A rental sign outside a residential property

A new study – led by the University of Stirling – will advise landlords on how they can support tenants in the private rented sector to make their leased property a ‘home’.

The ‘Making a House a Home’ project – funded by the SafeDeposits Scotland Charitable Trust – will review existing evidence to identify opportunities, challenges and good practice.

Key considerations include: the extent to which renters are allowed to personalise a property, and keep pets; how landlords conduct property inspections; the support which landlords provide for older and vulnerable tenants, such as accessibility adaptations and improved energy efficiency.

The study’s findings will be featured in a new guidance leaflet that will be directed towards private landlords and letting agents, to support the growing number of tenants in Scotland’s private rented sector. It is hoped that it will not only make landlords aware of their responsibilities, but provide them with the education and guidance needed to help them make their tenants feel more settled and at ‘home’.

The research project will be led by Dr Kim McKee, of the Faculty of Social Sciences, supported by Stirling colleague Dr Steve Rolfe, Dr Tom Simcock from Edge Hill University, and Dr Jenny Hoolachan from Cardiff University.

Dr McKee said: “Tenants often face challenges in making their rented property a home – which is crucial to feelings of wellbeing. It is not simply enough to have a roof over your head, but to live in a property that provides for your social, emotional, and creative needs – that has never been clearer than now, during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“The tenant-landlord relationship is vital to a positive tenant experience, but it is not an easy one to legislate for. The aim is that our research findings can play a key role in education and the sharing of good practice across the sector – helping to achieve the ambition of a professional and modern private rented sector in Scotland.”

John Duff, the Chairman of SafeDeposits Scotland Charitable Trust, said: “We launched the Trust in 2016, so that we could support the ongoing improvement of Scotland’s private rented sector. Through the Trust we’re able to back projects, like this one, that promote best practice management of housing.

“The aim of the research is to provide valuable sector insight that can be used to create a positive renting experience for all. Allowing a tenant to make a rented house a home gives tenants the feeling of ownership while still being able to rent. It also means tenants are more likely to look after a property if they really feel like it’s their own.  

“We hope this research will give landlords and agents a deeper understanding of what changes can be made to meet the needs of tenants looking to make their rented property feel more like home.”

The 10-month project will get underway in the summer, with the research team disseminating the findings via a full report, guidance leaflet, webinars, and conferences throughout 2021. The project builds upon the team’s experience in researching the private rented sector through previous studies funded by the Leverhulme Trust, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Carnegie Trust and the Residential Landlords Association.

SafeDeposits Scotland Charitable Trust launched in 2016, and has provided more than £570,000 of funding towards projects in Scotland.