HOMELESSNESS charity Shelter Scotland has backed calls for Edinburgh to introduce rent controls.
Plans have been put forward that would see US-style caps set on the amount landlords can increase tenants’ rents.
The Edinburgh Greens want the Capital to be declared a Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ) after new laws come into force later this year.
Shelter said it was important to protect tenants from “unfair” rent increases, as figures show that the cost of a two-bedroom property has rocketed by 25 per cent in Lothian over the past six years.
The charity said an RPZ would complement the introduction of a new tenancy regime in Scotland, making it harder for landlords to evict tenants without good reason and limiting rent increases to once a year.
Adam Lang, head of policy at Shelter Scotland, said: “Protecting tenants from unfair rent increases and stopping landlords from raising rents as a means of forcing tenants out are both good reasons for creating Rent Pressure Zones.
“RPZs and new tenancy agreements are very positive moves, but to tackle affordability pressures head on, cities like Edinburgh need much more good quality and truly affordable housing in places where people want to live.”
When the question of RPZs was raised at the full council meeting last month, the administration said officials were “at the early stages of considering the implications of the legislation and what resources would be required if, at a future date, the council wished to make such an application”.
Ross McKinnon, 26, said he paid £675 a month for his two-bedroom flat in Granton – but just before Christmas the agents for the landlord got in touch about the rent.
He said: “They said they were looking at an increase to £900 – a 33 per cent rise – which would have been massive and totally inappropriate.
“I asked if they really thought it was realistic to charge that sort of price and they said the property market in Edinburgh was doing well and they were getting similar prices in other areas of the city.”
Nicky Lloyd, head of ESPC Lettings, said their figures suggested Edinburgh has seen an almost 20 per cent increase in average rents over the last three years.
But she warned: “Rent pressure zones, while a good idea to help new tenants, can create an imbalance between those who are already renting. A tenancy agreement to encourage people to stay longer is a more certain way for helping rents to remain stable.”
And David Alexander, managing director of city property firm DJ Alexander, stressed that landlords should not be treated as the enemy.
“He [a landlord] is providing something the Scottish Government is unable to do.
“If you make it more and more difficult for him you make it more likely that individual will decide to come out of the market and there will be less property available. You have to be really careful you don’t drive supply away.”