Save our city from out of control rents and protect those who call Edinburgh home – Daniel Johnson

Anyone who lives or works in Edinburgh will know it's not cheap. Anyone who has visited our city will know that, but what we are seeing now is a cost of living crisis.

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 4:55 am
Key safes outside a tenement - a sign of flats being used for short term rentals, such as those booked through Airbnb. Those seeking a long-term place to live face ever rising rents as a result of the boom in holiday accommodation in the capital. PIC: Lisa Ferguson/ TSPL.

A city that is increasingly unaffordable. A city where its residents are finding it hard to pay rent and keep on top of their bills.

Research has outlined that the price of renting a one bedroom property in the capital has risen by more than 40 per cent in the last decade – nearly double the national average.

Edinburgh has seen steeper rises in rent prices than most areas of Scotland, with average rents much more than the next highest in Glasgow and East Dunbartonshire.

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This rise in rent is expected to continue as long as we continue to have a severe shortage of homes.

Even the cost of purchasing land is higher in Edinburgh than in other parts of Scotland, another factor that makes building more affordable homes difficult.

Rent for so many in our city is simply out of control and it is a symptom of our broken housing system.

In Edinburgh, we see the lowest funding per head of population from the Scottish Government, which in turn leaves the Council unable to build as many affordable homes as other local authorities.

Edinburgh also suffers from a large number of short term lets. Pick out any close or tenement in the city and odds are you will see a collection of safety boxes attached to the wall, the Airbnb calling card. Of course, Edinburgh relies on tourism and the millions of visitors that generates each year but the number of short term lets in the city is simply unsustainable.

What we need to see from the Government is action to tackle these skyrocketing rent prices. We have to look into a fair system of rent control along with an increase in home building. Both things the SNP have spoken a great deal about but not actually put into practice.

Furthermore, a proper regulation of short term lets that was originally promised by the Scottish Government came to a last minute screeching u-turn.

It would be naive to suggest there is one magic bullet or easy solution to all this but we have to try and ensure a package of measures are available so people can actually live and work in our city.

We need a proper review of the housing system in Scotland along with a review of the planning system, which is too slow to react.

Without this action, we will continue to see families sacrificing other essentials in order to pay rent. We are already witnessing a worrying increase in people presenting as homeless from the private sector.

I thank the Evening News for highlighting this in the paper last week along with their campaigning efforts.

Our city should be seen as an affordable place to work or start a family. A place to be visited and enjoyed by all.

We can't allow Edinburgh to become unaffordable- we need effective rent control, investment in housing and a curb short term lets. We need a sustainable long term solution to this – or it will simply get worse.

- Daniel Johnson is the Scottish Labour MSP for Edinburgh Southern