Are landlords all profiteering crooks who care little for their tenants? It’s a question we’ll need to ask more often as recent stats showed there was a 44% drop in those buying their own homes in Scotland in the first two months of this year.

With the legacy of ‘right to buy’ and erosion of social housing, with the rental market in Scotland, and particularly in places like Glasgow and Edinburgh, going through the roof with no sign of slowing down, we become a country of those who have their own homes and those who must rent from others. So, if the word ‘home’ now equates to ‘business’ for many, how do we make sure that we're still treating those who still need somewhere to live with fairness?

I am 42 and a lifelong renter and no stranger to the punitive, punishing and, honestly, often petty, nature of rental contracts. Or of being too afraid to ask for essential repairs lest you be labelled as ‘difficult’ and be out on your ear.

Like everyone, I have horror stories about landlords. Ones who would turn up unannounced at odd hours of the day and linger for ages drinking your tea and monologuing like you’re a free therapist.

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There was the landlord who told us to simply ‘clean up’ the mushrooms growing from the bathroom carpet because of the damp. Another who didn’t care a jot our whole kitchen was covered with floral white mould like a botanical garden exhibit. The one who told us the smell of gas was absolutely fine but made a big deal of sticking some insulation tape over the leaky pipe anyway.

In my childhood, we frequently were homeless, or what the social services called at the time, ‘temporarily homeless’, meaning our single parent family lived in bed and breakfasts or caravans for months, sometimes years at a time.

And many landlords, seeing us desperate for anywhere other than a single room, then leveraged that to push the rent up by an extra twenty or thirty pounds a month above housing benefit that they couldn’t have possibly noticed, knowing that they were literally taking food out of mine and my sister’s mouth. Even at 10-years-old I knew they were the type who’d cheat at snakes and ladders.

Though we still rent, our circumstances are much better now. Our flat is beautiful and I’m grateful to call it our home. Our current landlords are thoughtful and fair.

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When we needed to move suddenly from Prague back to Glasgow for me to have urgent surgery they were happy to rent to us after a 20-minute Skype call, told us on the telephone call that we could paint the house whatever colours we wanted and were happy for us to bring our cat and our dog too, who are equally part of our family.

Once we moved in, they set up a WhatsApp group and even though they're busy young professionals living in a different country they have always been quick, responsive and fair with any problems with the house.

More than anything else, and this is key, it’s clear they understand that, for now, this is our home, and they’ve made it repeatedly clear to us that it will be stable and secure. Because worse than not being able to have pets, decorate, cold or damp or a landlord whose eyes never quite make it up above your collarbone while munching through your Hobnobs (not a euphemism), is the desperate sense of precarity in renting.

For most landlords their rental property is just an asset or equity. Something that is a profit or a negative on a spreadsheet. But for renters, it is literally their home. And it should have all the things that you would hope that home would inspire – safety, security, warmth, comfort, pride even.

So with no radical stocks of social housing on the horizon, what next?

I'm a fan of Glasgow’s Homes for Good; a social enterprise letting agency where strong ethics and a holistic approach to a tenants’ needs are at the core of what they do. They buy neglected homes and renovate them to a high standard for people on low incomes and aim to instil those feelings of security, safety and pride.

Indeed, the organisation's work is so innovative it secured a prestigious Gold World Habitat Award this year in recognition of its innovative, outstanding and revolutionary approach. If only all rental agencies could follow suit.

Until there is more affordable housing or more organisations like Homes for Good, it’s the smallest things that can matter the most. As a lifelong renter, I can tell you two things that would make a huge difference to many.

The first would be to allow tenants to paint the walls whatever colour they wished without asking. It is such a small, usually financially feasible, thing to be able to do to make your home feel like your own.

The second is to allow pets. Indeed, we ended up with ours because, in Prague, it was illegal for landlords to deny them and it was seen as a human right enshrined in law. As for the potential property damage? That’s what deposits are for and it’s the tenant taking the financial risk.

If the rental market is a game of snakes and ladders that isn’t ending anytime soon, if we need to accept they're always going to be renters and there are always going to be landlords, we can at least make sure there’s no cheaters at the table.

Landlords are not, as I have learned, created equally.

A few compassionate, thoughtful changes can make the difference towards a harmonious business relationship and a healthier, more humane industry for homes in Scotland.