City students have compared the manic process of finding a flat in Edinburgh with fight-to-the-death film The Hunger Games.
Stressed-out students face a “cut-throat” race to secure accommodation in some of the Capital’s most popular student areas, with as many as 30 said to be battling it out for a single flat.
And property bosses admitted the soaring number of students choosing to study in Edinburgh had placed an unprecedented strain on the rental market close to university campuses.
As many as one in eight Edinburgh residents is a student, with areas such as the Southside – where around 59 per cent of the population are undergraduates – bearing the brunt of the boom.
First-year students Jennifer Fingland, Molly Bean and Abigail Dimelow secured their three-bed flat in Marchmont Crescent last week after pre-booking a taxi during the compulsory mass viewing so that they could rush down to Cullen Property on Rutland Square and sign the lease before anyone else managed to get there first.
And the crafty group of friends arrived just minutes before peers Louise McPhillips, Kirsty Trail and Laura Cunningham, who had enlisted a friend to drive them down to the property company after attending the same viewing.
Molly, 18, originally from North Yorkshire, described the race to claim a flat as “really brutal and cut-throat”.
She said: “We got handed the viewing sheet and then everyone just ran out the door to try to get to the letting agency first. There were 20 people at the viewing – and at the other two we had this week there were 30.”
Neuroscience student Kirsty, 18, said: “It’s ridiculous and a bit manic. It’s like The Hunger Games. It’s also quite dangerous. I wasn’t even looking out for traffic.”
Last week it was revealed £30 million proposals to build a massive student housing block on the site of the current Homebase store in St Leonard’s Street had been knocked back amid fears it would push the Southside’s student population above 61 per cent.
Steve Coyle, operations director at Cullen Property, said the company could expect all 120 of its student flats to be snapped up in a matter of weeks.
He added: “The whole thing is a bit mad. The university keeps putting more and more courses on, which is fantastic. But there’s not the places for these students to live.”
FIGHT TO THE FINISH
The Hunger Games is a best-selling novel and film series created by US author Suzanne Collins.
It depicts a fictional country where teenage boys and girls from poor areas are selected to battle to the death on live television by the rich citizens of the wealthy capital city.