Duncan McDonald: Rental cost rise stories distorted

At this time of year there are a number of stories about increases in rent prices in Edinburgh.

Whilst the cost of housing should energise the wider public, it is important to consider the context around some of these stories.

First, rent prices are far from uniform across a city as diverse as Edinburgh. Yes, in areas such as the New Town or Stockbridge increased competition for postcode housing has increased rents.

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However, in other parts of the city, where the greater populace and conurbation lie, such as Gorgie, Broughton, Pilrig and Easter Road, where a large supply is available at half the prices for the same size and quality of property, there are great deals for tenants out there in highly desirable parts of the city.

Rental prices are also subject to significant variation over the year. For example, more people choose to move in the summer months so average rental statistics increase, plus an increase in holiday lets in Edinburgh can skew the overall figures.

Finally, rates do not include the additional value given to customers by reputable letting agents. We have been part of the campaign by the Council of Letting Agents (CLA) to drive rogue landlords and letting agents out of the market.

Edinburgh has been blighted by this issue for decades and they bring nothing but misery to individuals and damage the letting sector as a whole by their illegal activities. They appear on websites offering low rents in desirable locations.

As with most offers that appear too good to be true, it is. These “renters” are often sub-letting rental property they do not own, meaning anyone entering into a deal with them could find themselves kicked out of a property when this is exposed through no fault of their own.

Whilst they are in such a property, legally required checks on areas such as gas and electrics will not be carried out – putting lives at risk.

So next time you hear about rent rises in Edinburgh, keep in mind that these can be distorted by postcode and the time of year, and that the rental market in the city has kept close to inflation over the years.

I would also urge that all landlords and tenants in Edinburgh using a letting agent to check they are a member of the CLA or similar organisation to ensure they are staying in a safe property that complies with all the necessary legislation.

• Duncan McDonald is office manager at Broughton Property