'Out of control' rent hike claims as new figures reveal costs of renting one bed property increased by nearly double national average
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.
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New figures have revealed that Edinburgh and East Lothian saw the average rent for a one bed property rise from £520 in 2010 to £755 in 2021 – almost double the national cumulative increase over that period.
The latest statistics have sparked warnings from community figures that rent costs across the city are ‘out of control’ and that the housing system is ‘broken’.
Lothian MSP, Miles Briggs, said rent prices in Scotland’s capital were getting “closer and closer” to those in London.
“High demand for rental properties at the moment is pushing prices up even further, with many people unable to find a place to rent.
“It is disappointing that SNP Ministers have given the capital lower funding per head of population to build affordable homes than other local authorities.
“The cost of purchasing land is higher in Edinburgh than other part of Scotland, which makes the challenges of delivering more affordable homes even greater.”
The latest private rent statistics from the Scottish Government show tenants in the capital pay more than £200 the national average for a one bedroom property which is £546.
Housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland warned hike in rents in the private sector is a double whammy for many renters, who are still struggling with the effects of the pandemic.
Alison Watson, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “It has been an extremely tough year for many, with tens of thousands of people losing jobs and income. But the cost of putting a roof over your head in the private sector is still growing, putting extra undue pressure on families.
“The housing system in Scotland is broken and we need to see action now so that no one has to face the prospect of losing their home. Families are sacrificing other essentials such as energy to heat homes and clothing to pay for extortionate rent. The rising cost of family homes mustn’t be allowed to push more children into poverty.”
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.
The figures show that Lothians saw rent for a two-bed property increase from £665 to £942, and the price of a four-bed property climbed from £1,291 to £1,879.
It follows reports by letting agents that they were forced to take properties off the market to try and reduce the volume of requests, as unprecedented demand saw renters scramble to secure properties with more than 600 applicants for one property.
The pent-up demand following lockdowns saw people offering to pay hundreds of pounds over the asking price to secure a short term let.
Now the latest rent statistics have prompted calls for more social housing, as separate figures also recently revealed that Edinburgh is among 29 out of 32 Local Authorities that expects to see a rise in evictions – mainly from the private rented sector.
John Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords, said: “It is important to point out there are no authoritative measurements or reporting of actual rent levels in Scotland. That is something we have been pressing the Scottish Government to start gathering.
"With that data, we would be happy to work with them and others to tackle the problem of high rents if they are found to be a problem in specific areas but without a blanket solution that wouldn’t help.
“In October, we warned there was a chronic shortage of homes to rent and that our members expected the situation to get worse in the coming months. That is now coming to pass and, combined with huge jumps in the cost of buying a house, many people will be left with nowhere to live, inevitably putting massive pressure on emergency housing supply as well. The Scottish Government must understand the essential role private landlords play in Scotland’s housing sector and work with us and others in the sector to find a sustainable, long-term solution.”
Kate Campbell, the council’s housing, homelessness and fair work convener said: “Private rents in Edinburgh are the highest in Scotland. For a long time before the pandemic the overall number of people presenting as homeless had been going down, but the number of people presenting from the private rented sector had been going up. There’s no question that this is linked to homes becoming unaffordable for many.
“We’ve been making the case for more investment in social housing in Edinburgh, alongside additional powers like controls over short term lets to try to counteract this.
“It’s also the reason that we have set an incredibly ambitious target to deliver a programme to build 20,000 affordable homes over ten years – because we know how much we need more affordable housing in our city.”
And Scottish Greens housing spokesperson Ariane Burgess added: "It is astonishing that rents continued to rise in the midst of a pandemic, when demand was low and people were struggling with reduced income.
"If landlords won't lower rents in these conditions, when will they? These figures show that we cannot leave something as fundamental as people's homes to market forces. That's why I'm proud the Scottish Greens will bring rent controls back to Scotland."