EDINBURGH has been named the most expensive place to rent in Scotland as new figures suggest the cost is set to soar by 20 per cent in the next five years.
Property firm Your Move put the average rent paid in the Capital in January at £726 per month and said the Edinburgh and Lothian area had seen rents rise faster than any other part of the country.
Meanwhile, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) forecast rents would rocket by a fifth by 2022, pushing the most vulnerable tenants out of the private rental market.
The number of people deciding to rent has increased as house prices rise and it becomes more difficult to find a deposit and secure a mortgage.
Your Move said the average rent in Edinburgh and Lothian had risen 3.3 per cent between January 2016 and January 2017 - while in Glasgow and Clyde it had actually fallen 1.4 per cent to £566.
Lianna Denholm, lettings manager with the company, said the most popular locations included Stockbridge, Dalry, the city centre, Fountainbridge and Leith, but also Midlothian.
“The new Borders Rail Line means people can be in the city centre within 20 minutes so it’s easier for people to commute while renting properties in Bonnyrigg or Gorebridge for example.”
Your Move’s latest bulletin on the rental market said it had been a “bullish” start to 2017.
But it noted the number of Scottish households in serious arrears – defined as two months or more – was 10,413 in January.
And the rate of arrears were higher in Scotland than in England and Wales.
The RICS survey showed a growing shortage of homes to rent, with tenant demand exceeding new properties on the market since January 2009.
The projected 20 per cent increase in rental costs over the next five years is even higher than RICS’ forecast of an 18 per cent rise in house prices over the same period.
However, RICS said the Scottish Government may be able to provide assistance, since its market survey showed more than half of private landlords would be prepared to rent their properties to homeless people or those on housing benefits if the government introduced some form of state-endorsed deposit guarantor scheme.
Gail Hunter, director of RICS in Scotland, said: “As housing prices and rental costs continue to increase, it is imperative that support is available to those at the lower end of the market.
“It is vital we ensure they too have access to a secure and sustainable home.
“As part of RICS ‘A Home For Cathy’ campaign – aimed at tackling UK homelessness – we have joined forces with Crisis to call on the UK and Scottish Governments to do more to support vulnerable tenants through the introduction of help to rent measures.”
RICS chief executive Sean Tompkins said it was a matter of public interest.
“The housing market is falling increasingly out of step with the majority of household incomes.
“In the current climate, it can be hard enough for young professionals to make ends meet.
“But for those on benefits, the pressures may be insurmountable.
“Worryingly our figures show that as a result of a combination of economic pressures, more and more vulnerable tenants are being pushed out of the private rented sector.
“However, if government were to put in place additional support measures through the introduction of help to rent schemes, the door to the rental market may once again be opened for Britain’s most vulnerable.”
Nicky Lloyd, head of ESPC Lettings, said: “Edinburgh tenants have been at the sharp end of rent increases over recent months, which has an impact on how much renters can save towards a deposit for buying their own property.
“For new renters coming onto market and paying these higher rents, the challenge is even greater, and it can make it seem difficult to imagine saving up for a deposit for a first home.”
Adam Lang, head of policy at Shelter Scotland, said rents had soared in recent years while wages had remained stagnant.
“So a great many people see a bigger chunk of their income going to pay for housing costs, which makes it really hard to save.
“At the heart of the problem is the fact that demand for houses far outstrips supply which is why we urgently need a step-change in the provision of truly affordable housing.
“We need at least 12,000 affordable homes built across Scotland each year for the current parliament just to meet demand.
“Next year will see the introduction of a new tenancy regime in Scotland which will make it harder for landlords to evict tenants without good reason and will also limit rent increases to once a year.
“Tenants will also be able to appeal to a rent officer if they feel the increase is unfair.
“These changes are badly needed for the 350,000 households in Scotland who rent their homes privately.”