Campaigners warn Edinburgh risks imitating London on housing policy

Skyrocketing house prices and rising homelessness have led activists and charities to warn that Edinburgh risks following the same failed policies that have led London to become unaffordable for the majority of people. 
Property prices in Edinburgh are amongst the fastest growing in Scotland, rising at double the rate of the rest of the country.
 
On average, Edinburgh has seen the price of property increase of 14.5 per cent, while in England and Wales the increase was just 1 per cent. 
 
There are fears that already high rents in the city will now begin to rise dramatically as a result.
 
Graeme Brown, the director of Shelter Scotland, said: “What we are seeing is a hollowing out of affordable homes in the city centre, with rising homelessness throwing into stark relief this lack of housing supply.
 
“Edinburgh enjoys huge success as an international city, but we have to ask if it is starting to repeat the same housing mistakes that are so well documented in London, where the city is becoming increasingly unaffordable and inaccessible to ordinary households, not least to the most vulnerable in our society.”
 
The SNP have passed legislation which would see areas designated as 'rent pressure zones', but campaigners warn this doesn't go far enough to address the root causes of the housing crisis.
 
Brown added: “Edinburgh’s local housing stock is being diminished from a number of different areas, as Airbnb and short-term lets proliferate in the city centre. Luxury student flats are springing up all over the city, while close by to the Scottish parliament, dozens of families are homeless in unsuitable temporary accommodation.”
 

Craig Paterson, an activist with Living Rent, Scotland's Tenants' Union, said: "Just like the rest of Scotland the cost of renting has skyrocketed in Edinburgh, this is why Living Rent is calling for strict rent controls to be introduced in order to alleviate the pressure on tenants.

 
With Edinburgh being the capital it has added pressures on its housing situation with thousands of student flats popping up and Air B+B capitalising on the short term let market for tourists visiting the historic capital.
 
All of this only adds to the shortage of long term sustainable housing for Edinburgh residents, pushing rents higher still, and so vicious cycle rolls on.
 
We need rent controls now, and we need the government to build affordable housing for social rent only to alleviate the pressure on housing and to flood the market with cheap affordable rents in order to bring the system under control".
 
Richard Leonard, Scottish Labour's leader, has made housing one of his flagship policies, and has pledged to cap rent increases in his proposed "Mary Barbour law", which would link rent increases to average wages.

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