Edinburgh rentals: Families 'locked out' of rental market as letting agent warns of ‘unheard of’ demand for homes

Letting agents warn 'unheard of' demand for rented properties (Photo: Catriona Thomson)
Letting agents warn 'unheard of' demand for rented properties (Photo: Catriona Thomson)

Letting agents in Edinburgh have warned that the demand for rented properties has soared to ‘unheard of’ levels causing ‘growing discontent’ from tenants who are forced to scramble for a limited number of homes.

Families and tenant groups say the fierce competition and soaring rents is making it ‘impossible’ to get a rented property, plunging more into homelessness. DJ Alexander said the level of demand is unprecedented in its 41-year history with hundreds of people bidding for every in-demand property. The company, which currently has more than 70 properties for rent listed in Edinburgh, has seen a substantial increase in people being made homeless. Bosses fear that the situation is only going to get worse.

The Evening News spoke to several letting agents who said the fierce competition for properties has become unsustainable and is forcing house hunters to take desperate measures. David Alexander, chief executive at DJ Alexander, said: “Over the last few years we have seen demand for properties in the private rented sector increase substantially but over the last year it has grown exponentially.

“These viewing enquiry numbers would have been unheard of four or five years ago, but we now regularly have hundreds of people applying for each property with only a limited number of places becoming available, resulting in little prospect of finding homes for all of these individuals.”

He added: “A solution to this problem needs to be found if we are now to witness growing discontent from tenants and a substantial increase in the level of homelessness. What is required is a coordinated, cross-party approach which encourages investment and growth in the private rented sector, increased levels of house building, and a long-term increase in the volumes of social housing being built to ensure that, although the situation is chronic at present, we don’t allow it to become acute in the future.”

Leanne Carling, Director, Carling Property Group said huge costs, rising mortgages and interest rates and rent caps means landlords are not making money. She said: “There’s too much legislation and costs involved in being a landlord. Due to the lack of stock when a property does come to market the number of applications received is phenomenal. We have had offers of double deposits, increased rent and even bidding wars between potential tenants to secure a property. The situation is actually crazy.”

‘Locked out of rental market’

One mum-of-two who has been trying to get a rented family home in Edinburgh for eight months said she feels ‘locked out’ of the rental market and worries she will end up with nowhere to go.

“I’ve been trying to find a home for me and my children since December,” she said. “When I apply to view a house the first question I get is if my annual income is 30 times the monthly rent. It will not accept you for a viewing even if you say you have a guarantor. So I need to be on minimum of £36,000 to get a 3 bedroom for me and my kids.

"I don't earn that much so I can't afford Edinburgh and Lothian where it’s averaging about £1090 a month. I can't even afford to rent in a place like Granton Medway, which has properties for rent for £1300. I've been told if I do get accepted I need a double deposit.

"Most of the time I can't get past the basic application to even view a home. I have money to move including the double deposit and over 20 years of references. It just feels like I am locked out of being able to rent. It's impossible. Luckily the evictions ban is in place until September and hopefully will be extended but I don’t know what will happen after that. It’s so stressful. I was looking every day for a while but it was taking over my life."

She added that the situation was putting stress on her children. "My kids are worried. They don't want to have to move school,” she said. “As someone who was bullied at school I don't want my kids to have to move school as they are happy where they are but the chances of getting anywhere local are non existent.

"The worst part is the total insecurity of not knowing where we will go as there is no way it seems I can rent privately. I will have to present my family and myself as homeless to the council when I am eventually evicted. And the landlord has stopped repairs. He doesn't see the point. It feels hopeless.”