THE Scottish tenants’ union Living Rent has vowed to keep up pressure on Edinburgh City Council to gain the necessary powers to implement rent controls and address the capital’s affordability crisis.

As part of the co-operation agreement between the SNP and the Scottish Greens, the Scottish Government is committed to producing legislation for “an effective national system of rent controls” by the end of 2025.

Ahead of this month’s local elections, the Edinburgh SNP group – who this week failed to form a new administration in coalition with the Scottish Greens, after being outvoted by Labour with LibDem and Tory support – stated their ambition to make Edinburgh the first local authority in Scotland to implement rent controls once the necessary powers were available.

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Speaking in April, Edinburgh SNP group leader Adam McVey said: "Rent controls operate successfully in Sweden, France, Germany and Ireland and we’ll work with the Scottish Government to get the policy right so that we can keep rents at fair and affordable rates for residents.”

At the time of publication, however, new Edinburgh council leader Cammy Day has offered no clarification as to whether the new Labour administration shared this ambition - despite Scottish Labour representatives in Holyrood calling for rent control proposals to be brought in ahead of 2025.

Speaking to The National, Leith Living Rent branch spokesperson Cameron Scally said: "The cost-of-living crisis has made a bad situation worse. Tenants were already struggling, with many paying up to half their income on rent. Now with rent prices at £1200 for a two-bed flat, and inflation pushing energy bills and daily essentials beyond what many can afford, it is clear our escalating rent prices need to be brought down.  

“This is not a recent issue. Our housing has been insufficiently regulated under the watch of many different councils over the years. Indeed, rent in Edinburgh increased by 40% from 2011-2021 and by 14% in just the last year. Such astronomically high numbers demonstrate how our politicians have repeatedly failed the communities that they profess to serve. 

“Councils have a responsibility to ensure that rents are affordable for their constituents. If they do not, working people and their families will continue to bear the brunt of the country’s economic crises."

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Scally acknowledged that local authorities in Scotland do not currently have the required powers to implement rent controls. However, he said that Living Rent’s members in the capital would continue to lobby Edinburgh City Council to gain better powers and address the housing crisis, “regardless of who is in charge".

Scally added: “It will not be the political party in power that will bring about rent controls in Edinburgh and across Scotland, it will be tenants building power through their communities who will deliver rent controls for Scotland.

“Our members and tenants across the city cannot afford to wait any longer for the changes that we urgently need. We will be organising across the city to make rent controls a reality in this administration as we did in the last."