MSP condemns ‘broken’ private rented sector as rents reach record levels

Alison Johnstone
Alison Johnstone

Fresh calls have been made for the Scottish Government to increase the availability of affordable homes after average rents in the private sector reached an all-time high.

Figures from lettings agents Your Move revealed that Scottish tenants are paying 2.8 per cent more rent than a year ago, with particularly high increases in the Highlands and Islands region at 5.4 per cent. Average monthly rent now stands at £549.

Edinburgh and Lothians as well as Glasgow and Clyde regions, where rent levels are among the highest in the country, have seen increases of 1.8 per cent and 1.7 per cent respectively.

Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, said: “The latest figures on rent levels come as no surprise, and are yet another testimony to the broken state of Scotland’s private rented sector. There seems to be no end to increases to the already sky-high rents in the capital region, but things are now looking worse for more rural areas too.

“More and more people and families who can no longer afford to buy a house have to resort to the private rented sector to find a long-term home. Rents are rising at a faster pace than wages, leaving many people struggling to pay the bills.

“As renting has become more expensive, we’ve also seen a hike in applications for housing benefit, as well as an increase in households living in poverty. This is unacceptable in a 21st century Scotland. The Scottish Government must act now to make sure everyone can afford a roof over their head.”

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, added: “Thousands of households in Scotland today are worrying about how they will pay their rent, as shown by the number of calls to our free national helpline from tenants seeking advice – 46 per cent of the total calls to the helpline were from private renters.

“The root cause of high rents is a shortage of affordable housing. To meaningfully tackle Scotland’s housing crisis, we need to build more affordable homes, including 10,000 new social homes every year for the foreseeable future.”

Your Move Scotland lettings director, Brian Moran, said: “We’ve reached a tipping point in July. Rents in Scotland have been building to a crescendo so far in 2015, and rent rises have been quickening their step. Now we’ve reached a mid-point in the year, the rental market has clearly paused for breath.

“But while the overall momentum may have been suspended in mid-air, rents are at all-time highs and not in the areas you might expect.

“With the severe squeeze on housing in the cities, households are casting their nets much more widely for places to live, which is driving a renaissance in the more affordable areas of Scotland.”

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