Call for private rental sector reform as Edinburgh prices increase by 9 per cent

Sarah Boyack
Sarah Boyack

The cost of renting private sector accommodation in Edinburgh has prompted fresh calls for the introduction of rent controls.

New figures show the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom property in the Capital in the second quarter of this year was £850 – up from £781 last year – and an average £53 a month higher than in Glasgow.

The 8.8 per cent jump in Edinburgh was the biggest rise among Scotland’s four major cities.

Lothian Labour MSP Sarah Boyack has now called for new laws to tackle rising private-sector rents.

She told the Scotsman: “We need to reform the private rental sector to make it work for everyone, rather than simply act as a cash cow for landlords.

“Families unable to get a foot on the property ladder or access to social housing have little choice but to rent in the private sector if they want to remain in the city.

“We need to make the rental market system fit for purpose.”

It comes a day after it emerged Edinburgh house prices were rising faster than any other city in Britain – further fuelling concerns that property in the city is beyond the reach of families and first-time buyers.

Around 54,000 households in Edinburgh live in privately rented accommodation.

In their latest bulletin on the letting market, estate agents Rettie said average rents across Scotland are up 5.4 per cent on last year to £762 per month.

But Edinburgh saw the steepest rise – 8.8 per cent for a two-bedroom property and 7.2 per cent for a three-bedroom, which increased from £1126 to £1207 per month. Rettie also noted that three out of four rental properties in Edinburgh were let within a month.

A separate report released by letting agents Your Move showed many tenants were struggling to keep up with record rent levels, with nine per cent of all rent being paid late. It showed the average rent in the Lothians standing at a new high of £604 – and revealed a big spike earlier this year in the money that landlords were making.

Ms Boyack said new controls were needed to ban “rip-off rent rises” by limiting increases. She said: “These new figures show landlords making more whilst more tenants struggle. The SNP Government cannot continue to turn a blind eye to rent reform. The 54,000 private renters in Edinburgh deserve better than that.

“In addition to effective controls on rents we need to see a significant increase in the availability of affordable social housing to rent in the city.

“As prices continue to rise we’ll see people who are already priced out of the housing market priced out of the rental market and that will be bad for Edinburgh’s economy.”

Shelter Scotland, which is campaigning for rental reform, said rent rises were making life difficult for many people.

Adam Lang, the charity’s head of communications and policy, said: “Every day we hear from people who are feeling overwhelmed by mounting rent, as the increasing pressure of sky-high housing costs continues to take its toll.”

The Scottish Government said it was already taking action to reform the private rented sector.

A spokeswoman said: “We are investing £1.7 billion in affordable housing and are 90 per cent of our way to reaching our five year target of delivering 30,000 homes by 2016.”

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