Comment: Rent problem could turn into a crisis

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Soaring house prices in Edinburgh is nothing new.

Owning a home in the Capital has been out of reach of many for years as the city struggles with the shortage of affordable housing.

It is little surprise that the impact of that is to push up rental prices.

However, the levels which it has reached today are surely a fresh cause for concern.

Estate agents DJ Alexander go as far as saying they fear the 
market cannot cope much longer as demand outstrips supply.

The annual cost of renting a one-bedroom flat in Edinburgh has soared by a staggering £1860 in the last five years.

That is good news for landlords perhaps but not so good for 
everyone else. Workers who can afford rent are stuck in expensive accommodation with no prospect of saving a huge deposit to get on the housing ladder.

Those who can’t are discouraged from coming to the city in the first place or forced to move elsewhere.

We all know Edinburgh is a fantastic city in which to live and work but that won’t be at all costs for everyone.

The danger is our housing problems don’t just price people out of the market, they result in a gradual migration away which weakens Edinburgh and leaves key jobs unfilled.

The solution is clearly more 
affordable housing to both rent and buy and will take the industry, city council and Scottish Government working together to fix.

It will mean more development and quickly, but appropriate development in a controlled way, sensitive to existing communities and able to meet the demand which exists.

We want people to come to the city, and we want them to be able to stay.

If rents continue to soar then this could develop from being a problem for some into a crisis for everyone.