This paper looks at the behaviour of private landowners in rural Scotland in relation to housing supply, particularly renting and low-cost housing. The theme is one that has received relatively little research. In consequence, the paper is set in the context of two rather broader traditions in the literature of examining investor/ developer behaviour and of studying rural social structure. The paper presents and analyses data from a national study of landowners' views and attitudes to housing supply undertaken in 1999-2000. Its principal findings are that the motivations of this key group of suppliers are rarely as simple as assumed in some conventional analyses, and in some important senses may be counter-intuitive. It is argued that non-pecuniary motives are critical in understanding behaviour. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.