The Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) attributed the problem to a shortage of supply.
A poll found 43% of people looking to rent in the past five years had found it “quite difficult” or “very difficult” to find a suitable property.
The survey was commissioned by SAL and the Council of Letting Agents (CLA).
They called on the Scottish government to address the lack of supply by encouraging investment in the sector while driving up standards and ensuring value for money for tenants.
In response, the government said it was committed to making the private rented sector “an attractive and affordable housing option” for those who wanted to take it up.
Other issues raised by people looking to rent included poor treatment by landlords and value for money.
More than 1,000 people took part in the survey.
‘Poor reputation’SAL chief executive John Blackwood said: “Although the private-rented sector in Scotland sometimes has a poor reputation, this poll shows that a significant number of people are trying to access the market and that many of them are not able to find suitable accommodation.
“We are acutely aware of the need to introduce measures which protect tenants from poor treatment by landlords and letting agents and will work with all parties to drive these rogue companies and individuals out of the sector.
“At the same time, however, it is important to take measures which encourage investment in the private-rented sector.
“Landlords and letting agents must be given the confidence to invest in the housing sector as well as be encouraged to refurbish properties and make them available for rent.
“They need to be able to evict tenants who indulge in anti-social behaviour or repossess properties that have been abandoned so that properties can be let to responsible tenants looking for accommodation and help meet the increased demand.”
Sector ‘champion’A Scottish government spokeswoman said ministers were working with the housebuilding industry to deliver more new homes.
She added: “We are funding the appointment of Homes for Scotland’s private rented sector champion, Gerry More, to bring forward initiatives to boost the supply of new homes for private rent.
“We have also recently consulted on a new tenancy system to improve the private rented sector for both tenants and landlords.
“We are currently analysing the responses and will outline the next steps in the coming weeks.”