John McLellan: I’m not persuaded by rent control calls

The average rental cost of a two-bedroom flat in Edinburgh is �956. Picture: Ian Georgeson
The average rental cost of a two-bedroom flat in Edinburgh is �956. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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Campaigners demanding that Edinburgh be declared a city-wide rent pressure zone this week bombarded councillors’ email accounts in a mini cyber-spree, but without any facts their arguments were not the most persuasive.

The jury is still out on whether rent pressure zones make housing more affordable, as opposed to pushing landlords out the market, and their recent introduction in the Republic of Ireland is so far inconclusive.

Scottish Government legislation, which allows councils to set up RPZs, would allow for rent caps for existing tenants but not prevent larger increases for new occupants.

The real cause of high prices is invariably the inability of supply to match demand and the new laws specifically ask councils for evidence of effort to increase housing supply as well as proof of runaway rent

increases before permission to go ahead will be granted.

READ MORE: Edinburgh set for new US-style rent control powers

According to Home.co.uk, the average room rental in Edinburgh is £587 a month and the recent Citylets survey shows an average two-bed flat is £956. The two-bed price has risen three per cent in the last year, which does not suggest a market out of control, but the problem is that in ten years all rents have increased by over 40 per cent partly because construction was hit by the Credit Crunch.

The city administration has set an ambitious target of 20,000 new affordable homes in the next ten years, but the adverse local reaction to just the suggestion of building around 400 units at Meadowbank shows

how hard this will be near established communities.

READ MORE: Edinburgh council urged to act on soaring city rents