Affordable housing must be at the heart of a fairer city - Lorna Slater

Everyone should have a warm, comfortable and affordable place to call their own. But, for thousands of private renters in Edinburgh, things have been really tough.
Minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity, Lorna Slater. Picture: PAMinister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity, Lorna Slater. Picture: PA
Minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity, Lorna Slater. Picture: PA

Rents have shot up by a staggering 80 per cent since 2010, hitting an average of almost £1200 per month for a two-bedroom flat. For a lot of people it’s been impossible to keep up.

The Edinburgh Poverty Commission has found almost one third of residents are in poverty due to housing costs, more than twice as high as the national average.

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The cost of living crisis has made things even harder, making our city more expensive and plunging a lot of people into financial anxiety and sleepless nights.

That's why, in 2022, my Scottish Green colleague Patrick Harvie, in his role as a Scottish Government Minister, introduced an emergency rent cap and eviction protections. Scotland was the only part of the UK to do so, going far beyond anything we have seen from Downing Street.

That has resulted in families across our city saving hundreds of pounds and keeping a stable and secure roof over their heads.

The cap will be lifted at the end of this week, on 31 March; which is the final date allowed by the legislation. From 1 April there will be temporary measures in place to limit rent rises ahead of permanent new changes.

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The rules from 1 April mean private landlords must give at least three months notice of any further rises and will empower tenants to challenge extreme increases.

That’s all ahead of a Housing Bill which Patrick will publish soon and which will set out how the Scottish Government plans to deliver a New Deal for Tenants: a deal which will have a permanent system of rent controls at its heart.

But it’s not just what we pay. It takes more than bricks and mortar to make a house a home. It's the ways we express ourselves and the personal touches that we add as we make a place more special.

It’s an important right, but it's a freedom that has been denied for hundreds of thousands of tenants across the country.

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The right to decorate and personalise a home and to keep pets are just some of the new rights for private renters that have been set out in the New Deal. These rights sit alongside new eviction protections to provide greater security and peace of mind.

Edinburgh is a beautiful city and it is our diversity that helps to make it so special. I don’t want to live in a city where only the wealthiest can live comfortably while others are desperately trying to make ends meet.

Housing is a big part of that gap, but, with change on the horizon, I hope we can start to redress years of soaring rents and take a big step towards a city that works for all of us.

Lorna Slater, Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity

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