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New figures have shown that in Edinburgh and East Lothian, the median rent for a single bed home has increased more than forty percent from £ 520 in 2010 to £ 755 in 2021 – almost double the nationwide cumulative increase over that period.
The latest statistics have sparked warnings from community officials that rental costs are “out of control” across the city and that the housing system is “broken”.
Lothian MSP, Miles Briggs, said rental rates in Scotland’s capital were “getting closer” to London’s.
“The current high demand for rental properties is driving prices up even further, as many people cannot find a rental apartment.
“It is disappointing that the SNP ministers have made less resources available to capital per capita to build affordable housing than other local authorities.
“The cost of buying land in Edinburgh is higher than other parts of Scotland, adding to the challenges of providing more affordable housing.”
The latest private rental statistics from the Scottish Government show that renters in the capital are paying more than £ 200, the national average for a one-bedroom apartment which is £ 546.
Housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland warned that rent increases in the private sector are a double blow for many renters still grappling 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 their jobs and incomes. But the cost of a roof over one’s head in the private sector is still rising, which puts additional pressure on families.
“The housing system in Scotland is broken and we must act now so that no one has the prospect of losing their home. Families sacrifice other essentials, such as energy to heat houses and clothes, to pay the horrific rents. The rising costs of single-family houses must no longer drive children into poverty. “
Edinburgh rents have risen faster than most parts of Scotland, with average rents much higher than the next highest in Glasgow and East Dunbartonshire.
The figures show that Lothians increased the rent on a two bedroom property from £ 665 to £ 942 and the price of a four bedroom property climbed from £ 1,291 to £ 1,879.
It follows reports from rental agents that they have been forced to take properties off the market in an attempt to reduce the volume of inquiries, as unprecedented demand led tenants to scramble to find properties with more than 600 applicants for a property to back up.
The pent-up demand for lockdowns led people to offer to pay hundreds of pounds above asking price to secure a short-term rental.
Now, the latest rental statistics have led to calls for more social housing, as separate figures recently also showed Edinburgh is among 29 out of 32 local authorities that expect evictions, mainly from the private rental sector, to increase.
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John Blackwood, Executive Director of the Scottish Association of Landlords, said: “It is important to note that there are no authoritative measurements or reports of actual rental levels in Scotland. This is something we have urged the Scottish Government to begin the assembly.
“With this data, we enjoy working with them and others to address the problem of high rents when they are a problem in certain areas, but without a one-size-fits-all solution that doesn’t help.
“In October we warned that there was a chronic shortage of rental housing and our members expected the situation to get worse in the coming months. This is coming now, and in combination with the enormous increases in the cost of buying a house, many people will no longer have an apartment, which inevitably puts the emergency housing supply under massive pressure. The Scottish Government needs to understand the essential role of private landlords in the Scottish housing sector and work with us and others in the industry to find a sustainable, long-term solution. “
Kate Campbell, Councilor for Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work, said: “Edinburgh private rents are the highest in Scotland. Long before the pandemic, the total number of people presenting themselves as homeless had decreased, but the number of people presenting themselves from the private rental sector had increased. There is no question that this has to do with the fact that housing is becoming unaffordable for many.
“We advocate more investment in social housing in Edinburgh, along with additional powers such as short-term rental controls to try to counter this.
“That’s also why we have set ourselves an incredibly ambitious goal of delivering a program to build 20,000 affordable homes over ten years – because we know how much we need more affordable housing in our city.”
And the Greens Housing Spokeswoman Ariane Burgess added: “It is amazing that rents continued to rise amid a pandemic when demand was low and people on lower incomes struggled.
“If landlords don’t lower rents under these conditions, then when? These numbers show that we cannot leave something as basic as home ownership to market forces. So I am proud that the Scottish Greens will bring rent control back to Scotland. “