FIFTEEN registered landlords own around 5300 private rented properties in Scotland’s capital city, a freedom of information request (FOI) by the Edinburgh Evening News revealed.

This amounts to around nine percent of the private rental sector in Edinburgh. One landlord owns more than 1010 properties, and dozens more own more than 100 properties each, according to the FOI request.

These figures come to light amongst a growing concern for the number of “super landlords”, whose widespread property prowess has the potential to influence rent prices within the city – already at an all-time high – with the price of renting a one-bedroom property rising by more than 40% in the last decade.

The National: One landlord owns 1010 properties in the cityOne landlord owns 1010 properties in the city

To combat the cost of living crisis, council tenants have had their rents frozen for a second year. However, private rents saw an average increase for a one-bed property surge from £520 in 2010 to £755 in 2021.

This figure lies at nearly double the national average. A search on rightmove this week for one-bedroom properties in the Edinburgh City Centre reveals five pages of results. The average monthly rent for the 24 flats listed on the first page was £868, with the cheapest listed at £560, and the most expensive at £1500.

READ MORE: Scots struggle as demand in flat shares in Glasgow and Edinburgh surge

The vast majority of tenants, in 60,000 private rented sector homes in Edinburgh, live in House of Multiple Occupancy, otherwise known as HMO properties.

The FOI request also revealed that the city’s “super landlords” own more than a quarter of HMO properties too, with 26% of HMO’s owned by merely a dozen landlords – each owning more than 50 properties each.

As property experts warn a high demand and a lack of available properties on the market could see private rents take another hike in the first quarter of 2022, council chiefs have been urged to work with private landlords to deal with the city’s housing crisis.

SNP MP Tommy Sheppard told the Edinburgh Evening News: “Private rented homes can bring in big profits. We need more of an investigation into the private rented sector and these ‘super’ landlords. We need to know more about who they are. The council and government needs to look at this in more detail."

The National: SNP MP Tommy SheppardSNP MP Tommy Sheppard

“If there are super landlords there’s potentially an argument for ‘super’ regulation,” he added. “There’s also an opportunity here to work with these landlords to drive up standards and make renting fairer and more affordable.

“The bottom line is we don’t have enough homes. There’s a case here for looking at a requirement for a percentage of private rented properties to be affordable, in the way that developers have to do for new builds.”

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Yvonne King, of King Sisters Letting told the newspaper: “There is a crisis because there’s not enough properties to meet demand. Rent rates came down during Covid then when students got notice to return to their courses in September last year it went crazy. We were inundated. It forced rent rates up.

"We had a one bed flat in Leith going for £700 and it’s now £850. Rents are going up partly because of a jump in sales prices. But there’s an economic equilibrium.

"If only a small number of individuals own many properties it does means that stake allows them more control in helping set market rates for rent.”

Tied into this debate is the dominance of Airbnb properties within the city. Currently, in the Edinburgh area, there are 6004 Airbnb properties listed, including 4162 entire homes or flats, 1735 private rooms, and 22 shared rooms.

The National: There are currently 6004 Airbnb's listed in EdinburghThere are currently 6004 Airbnb's listed in Edinburgh

The average price of a night in an Airbnb in the capital is currently £149 a night, meaning “hosts” can make more than a month’s average rent over the course of seven nights; it is therefore no surprise that thousands of house owners have taken to the short-term letting market.

However, their prevalence has forced up the prices on rental properties, as the pickings on the long-term letting market have become slimmer over time.

READ MORE: Scottish Government pushes ahead with plan to license Airbnb-style rents

To tackle this issue, the Scottish Government last year proposed new laws for short-term lets. As of 2024, properties in Scotland will need to obtain licenses from local councils. Under the legislation, all local authorities will be required to establish a short-term lets licensing scheme by October 2022.

The government held a series of consultations on the legislation in 2021, hoping to have the new law in the statute book before last year’s Holyrood election in May. However, the plans were shelved whilst draft guidance was being drawn up.

A stakeholder working group was set up in February 2021, but saw several groups resign, with the Airbnb and Scottish B&B Association calling the group “not fit for purpose” and withdrawing their input.

The government acknowledged plans to reconvene the stakeholder group to finalise guidance for the licensing scheme, to be published in early 2022.

The National:

SNP councillor Kate Campbell, Edinburgh's housing, homelessness and fair work convener, told the Evening News: “We face incredible pressure on housing supply in Edinburgh which is one of the key factors causing high rents.

“That’s why we have committed to building 20,000 affordable homes by 2027, why we are continuing to work on building the case for a rent pressure zone and why we’ve worked so hard to bring about regulation of short term lets.

“All short term lets will now need a licence making them much easier to control in terms of overall impact on our housing supply. We’ll also be considering greater planning controls at committee, which is another positive step in the right direction to resolving the issues short term lets are creating for residents across the city.”

Read the original article on the Edinburgh Evening News here.