HOUSING campaigners are calling on Edinburgh council to use recently acquired powers to cap sky-rocketing rents.
More than 2300 people have signed a petition by tenants’ union Living Rent that calls on the council to “implement a rent pressure zone across the city to stop sky-high rents driving people into poverty”.
Rents across the city are set to increase by 16.5 per cent in the next five years, significantly higher than the UK-wide forecast, according to a leading property consultancy.
The research, conducted by investment management firm JLL, suggests rents in Edinburgh will see a 3.3 per cent increase per year, with house prices projected to grow by 22 per cent over a five-year period.
Jon Black, from Living Rent, said: “Private tenants across Edinburgh are extremely concerned about rents rising faster than their wages.
“We meet dozens of people each week who are having to cut back on essentials like food and heating, or overcrowd their home, so they can meet their rent payments.
“We are calling on City of Edinburgh Council to implement rent controls for the whole city as soon as possible, to tackle surging rents, and help alleviate hardship. The council has the powers to do this now, and we will keep campaigning until rents are brought under control.”
Lothian has the highest inflation of private sector rents in Scotland – figures commissioned last year by Edinburgh’s Green councillors showed an increase of up to 40 per cent in the last seven years.
Retail worker Jamie Hughson, 27, said: “I feel I already have to live a very minimal life just to afford the combination of rent and council tax because Edinburgh is extremely expensive in comparison to other cities. This increase would make sure that I would surely be renting for the rest of my life.
“I think a cap would allow me to seriously be able to look at a mortgage down the line and, at the very least, give me more financial stability.”
Last year, legislation was passed by the Scottish Parliament to give councils the opportunity to apply to central government for a cap on rent increases in “rent pressure zones” (RPZ). Edinburgh was the first city council to approve action on how to implement rent controls.
Cllr Gavin Barrie, housing and economy convener, said: “We are working with other local authorities and the Scottish Government to develop a shared methodology for identifying and designating Rent Pressure Zones. Affordability is a key concern us, which is why we have one of the largest council-led housebuilding programmes in the UK.”