SEAN Robertson is a 42-year-old dad from Inverness – but because of the Highland housing crisis, he’s living with his parents.

The NHS lab technician thought he’d be in his mum and dad’s house for just a few weeks following a break-up – but that was two years ago.

He’s been saving up for years and has enough money for a deposit. ­Despite this, his mortgage offer from the bank is nowhere near enough for his local area.

He’s being pushed out of the place he grew up in, and once his child is old enough, he expects he’ll have to head somewhere more ­affordable.

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“I’m 42, living in a room in my parents’ house, working as a key worker in the NHS in ­Inverness, and I can’t afford a house,” Robertson told the Sunday National.

“I can’t afford a private rented house because it’s too expensive. That’s one issue. The other is when I go to buy a house, because it’s ­substantially cheaper to get a ­mortgage, even for houses that are Help to Buy, shared equity houses, I still can’t afford it.

“I’m trapped. The thing I find ­­annoying is the amount I’m spending on fuel is more than it would be for the mortgage. It’s a catch-22 situation where there’s no way out.”

Robertson said it’s ­“impossible” for him to afford a house in ­Inverness at current market rates.

The National: People on lower incomes are finding themselves priced out of InvernessPeople on lower incomes are finding themselves priced out of Inverness

“The Scottish Government needs to build thousands of council houses for the people waiting,” he said.

“In my ­opinion, housing should be a ­human right. But they don’t build enough houses.

“Everyone should be able to get an affordable house to raise their family in.”

Council housing isn’t a great option either, with long waiting lists seeing people stay long stretches of time before a house becomes available.

That leaves Robertson with few options other than leaving where he grew up. “As soon as my son is out of school, I’m gone,” he said. “I’ve no interest in hanging around somewhere that doesn’t want me.”

The NHS worker said one key issue in the areas is short-term lets.

“The prices people manage to make out of holiday homes is extortionate, so it’s no wonder they’re doing that,” he said. “They make so much money from tourists.

“Tourists can get a house, no ­problem. It’s the people who work here who can’t get a house.”

The Sunday National spoke to one Sutherland resident who managed to get a council house – but that was only when she faced homelessness.

One woman told the Sunday ­National that when she moved to the area for work, she struggled to find a place that wasn’t a holiday home.

She said: “Your options are through the council, but there’s such a low provision, or you’re paying through the nose for properties that are also holiday homes.

“I was left in a situation where I had employment, but I couldn’t find anywhere to live.

“So I lived in a caravan with no electricity or running water whilst I tried locally on the ground to talk to people to try and find somewhere to live. I don’t have the finances to buy anywhere. There’s no housing for working people, and it’s one of the biggest problems we see.

“People are making a lot of money from Airbnbs, but working-class people can’t find a property to rent or buy. You’re competing with people buying second homes.”

She said “profit is put before ­people” in the ­Highlands.

READ MORE: Eye-watering house prices see first-time buyers priced out of housing market

She said the Highlands should have a cap on the ­number of houses ­allowed to be either second homes or short-term lets.

Dr Madhu Satsangi a ­rural housing professor at Glasgow ­University, said there are “significant shortfalls” in the number of houses being built in the area.

The housing expert said the ­Highlands region has a high ­proportion of “ineffective stock” – second and holiday homes.

Demand is far outstripping ­supply and creating a “crude” balance ­between the number of houses and those in need of housing.

Professor Douglas Robertson (below) agreed, saying the housing ­market in the Highlands is “skewed”.

The National: Douglas Robertson.

He said that while social housing accounted for around 30% of the ­entire nation’s housing stock, it’s less than 10% in the Highlands.

He said: “In the Highlands, you’ve got limited stock, the social rented sector was decimated after Right to Buy, and a lot of the properties are either second homes or short-term lets.”

To combat this, Robertson has called for the introduction of ­restrictions on second homes, similar to what the Welsh Government has done, which would see “use categories” for houses.

That would mean local authorities could ban a home from being turned into a short-term let when there is ­housing need within the community.

The region would still need to build more ­houses though – and that’s getting more expensive.

Satsangi said the costs of ­building a house had risen dramatically ­following Brexit, with Robertson ­adding that the Highlands was ­already a more expensive place to build in than the rest of Scotland – paying around 30% more than in the central belt.

The National: Madhu Satsangi.

Satsangi (above) called the Scottish ­Government’s house-building plans “ambitious” but warned that with rising costs, it remains to be seen whether Scotland will have the level of resources necessary to solve the Highlands’ housing crisis.

Meg Bishop, Secretary of Living Rent, said a failure to solve the Highland housing crisis was "splitting up communities".

She told The National: "Stories such as these demonstrate how the housing crisis in the Highlands is aiding the destruction of communities, forcing neighbours to leave, and shops and schools to close. 

"Decades of out-of-control rent, a repeated failure to build social housing and a holiday let market that is splitting up communities has created a perfect storm for tenants and residents alike.

"The Scottish government needs to bring forward the introduction of rent controls that reduce rents to affordable levels, crack down on holiday lets and second home ownership to ensure that families are able to live in their communities and commit to building an increase in social housing across the Highlands."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Good quality housing is essential to attract and retain people in Scotland’s remote and rural communities, and we have delivered more than 6000 homes in these areas over the course of the previous parliament.

READ MORE: Housing crisis pushing Edinburgh locals 'out of the city we've lived all our lives'

“We have also committed to delivering 110,000 affordable homes across Scotland by 2032, with at least 10% in our ­remote, rural and island areas and we are developing a remote, rural and island housing strategy to address the barriers these areas face.

“We have also introduced regulation to short-term lets to balance the needs of local communities with benefits to hosts and the economy.

“Our licensing scheme, which is the first in the UK, will allow local authorities and communities to take action to manage local issues more effectively.

“Since 2007 the Scottish Government has delivered nearly 113,000 affordable homes, over 79,000 of which were for social rent.”