Edinburgh housing: Rental market is at ‘breaking point’ as viewing requests hit 51,000

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The rental market is at ‘breaking point’ a leading letting agent has warned, as two-bedroom properties in the capital see waiting lists of nearly 800.

It comes after a new online system for property viewing requests received 51,887 requests for viewings in Edinburgh in one month – for only up to 150 properties available at any given time. The average wait list for a two bedroom property is up to 788 people with up to 900 groups of students on a waiting list for every property, according to DJ Alexander Ltd.

Now their Chief Executive has called for a ‘practical not an ideological solution’ to the city’s housing crisis, sparked by concerns that soaring numbers on social housing waiting lists could further exacerbate existing shortages of homes. Mr Alexander said the rental market has ‘never been busier’ and doesn’t expect it will slow down in the next year.

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It comes as councils are increasingly turning to the private rented sector in a bid to fill the gap in available social housing, as figures show numbers waiting for council or housing association homes has risen 10,000 across Scotland in the past year. The rent freeze in place until March 2023 is also increasing pressure on the market, it’s claimed.

Edinburgh rental market is at 'breaking point' according to one letting agent (Photo Getty images)Edinburgh rental market is at 'breaking point' according to one letting agent (Photo Getty images)
Edinburgh rental market is at 'breaking point' according to one letting agent (Photo Getty images)

Breaking point

Mr Alexander told the Evening News: “Demand in the rental sector is at a record high in Edinburgh and tenants are desperate to find a home. We have tens of thousands of people seeking a few thousand homes, so the sector is at breaking point.

"Our firm is receiving tens of thousands of viewing requests a month and we cannot supply enough homes to meet demand. At a time when the rental market has never been busier, and demand has never been greater, this increase in the number of people on the social housing waiting list is deeply concerning.”

David continued: “Despite this difficult situation, the focus for the Scottish government is on shrinking the PRS through its current rent freeze policy which it will undoubtedly be considering extending beyond the 31 st March 2023 deadline. The problem is that this is likely to result in fewer available properties, increasing frustration among renters unable to find suitable properties, and greater pressure on the market resulting in potentially increased homelessness.”

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DJ Alexander Chief Executive David AlexanderDJ Alexander Chief Executive David Alexander
DJ Alexander Chief Executive David Alexander

He added: “The current system is an ad hoc, ideologically driven, policy which is about political point scoring rather than delivering homes for tenants. There is no slack in the system anywhere. The private rented sector currently has hundreds of applicants per property and there is little sign of this easing in the coming year.

"With the growing number of people on the social housing waiting list there is real concern about where these people are going to live. Added to this is the lowest number of lettings to homeless Scots and we are facing an extremely worrying period for people desperate to find a home.”

‘Demand currently outstrips supply’

Edinburgh’s housing, homelessness and fair work convener Cllr Jane Meagher said: “We’re committed to supporting people to access social housing as the significant demand here in Edinburgh currently outstrips supply. The incredible housing pressures we face here in Edinburgh mean we have one of the most expensive housing markets in the country with only 14% social housing.

"We have a number of initiatives to support families finding homes which include the use of the private rented sector. They are key elements to our Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan which aims to prevent homelessness in the first place, ensure temporary accommodation meets the needs of the households, support people to access settled accommodation as quickly as possible and to reduce rough sleeping in the city.”

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