Today, in an article for the Evening News, I called for action to be taken against the rip-off rent rises that we are currently seeing throughout Edinburgh.
This year, we have witnessed a massive rise in the price of private-sector rents – with an average increase of 8.8% on last year’s prices. We have also seen house prices rise faster than in any other city across the UK.
These trends indicate that more people will be effectively shut out of the property market and forced to rent in an increasing expensive private sector. As prices continue to rise, we will see people, who are already priced out of the housing market, also being priced out of the rental market.
Not only will this be bad for Edinburgh’s economy, but it will have a severe impact on the individuals that are subject to these rises – many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet. Recent research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) suggests that the number of private rented households living in poverty has doubled in the last decade to 120,000.
What’s more, according to the JRF: “private rents are forecast to rise by around 90 per cent in real terms between 2008 and 2040 – more than twice as fast as incomes. This would push up to 50 per cent of private renters into poverty by 2040”. If this trend continues we will see tens of thousands of people being pushed into poverty.
Yet, new figures show landlords are making more whilst more tenants struggle.
This appears to be intuitively unfair and risks deepening the inequality in our society. It is clear that we need to take action to reform the private rental sector to make it to work for everyone, rather than simply acting as a cash cow for landlords.
To do this we must create new laws to tackle the rising private-sector rents, but we also need to see a significant increase in the availability of affordable social housing in the city.
Scotland’s social housing stock has fallen by 17% in the last decade, which has caused the proportion of households in the private rented sector to double – from 8% per cent to 14%.Furthermore, a recent study conducted by Generation Rent found that “if current trends continue, renters will start to outnumber home owners in 104 UK Parliamentary seats across the UK by 2021”.
The SNP Government cannot continue to turn a blind eye to rent reform. The 54,000 private renters in Edinburgh deserve better than that.
I have been a strong supporter of campaigns such as Shelter Scotland’s Make Renting Right campaign, and I would encourage anyone interested in this to also sign up. Together we can make the Scottish Government pay attention to the need for affordable housing.