As buy-to-let property sector slumps, Scotland’s largest private landlord says private rental sector in need of massive shake-up

Scotland’s private rental sector is in need of a massive shake-up, according to Scotland’s largest independent residential landlord.

As more and more buy-to-let investors bail on one of the surest financial bets in our lifetime, serial entrepreneur Graeme Carling says he is “not surprised” given the “minefield” that is being a landlord in Scotland.

Commenting on reports that there has been a decline in buy-to-let mortgage applications, Graeme says that it’s not just tighter regulations and extra costs, such as the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax, which are to blame. The problem, claims Graeme, is “the minefield of actually being a landlord in Scotland”.

He says: “What appears, on paper, to be a tidy little investment can turn into a major headache for those wanting to earn extra income, or use buy-to-lets to invest some spare cash. Operating a building full of rentals is one thing. Running a place which is part of a collection of private properties is a whole lot different.”

Things can get “messy”, says Graeme, if there is no compulsory property factor to oversee common repairs. Chasing other landlords for money to pay for common repairs can be a full-time job, and if solicitors are used to chase payments, it can become costly too. “On a few occasions I’ve opted to swallow the costs myself simply because I couldn’t face the hassle. And that’s not fair,” he says.

Graeme goes on to argue that perhaps landlords and property agents are also means-tested, so that they are in a position to pay towards common repairs should they arise.

Graeme is co-founder with his wife Leanne of Carling Property Group and owner of the newly formed PRS Group. They own and manage 350+ rental properties all over Scotland, making them Scotland’s largest private residential landlords. The Carlings also head up United Capital, a new player in the financial investment sector.

PRS Group aims to expand rapidly by owning 5,000 rental properties “as quickly as possible”. They currently rent more than 300 properties through PRS, which includes maintenance, management and development arms.