CALLs for action on Edinburgh’s housing situation have mounted following the release of a study this week naming the capital as the most expensive city in the UK for solo renters.

Conducted by insurance experts at Protectivity, the study found that Edinburgh has overtaken London as the UK's most expensive area, following the advent of the cost-of-living crisis.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: Cost-of-living crisis highlights need for Scottish independence

Concerns over Edinburgh’s unaffordability have grown in recent years, with rents in the city having increased by over 40% over the past decade, and by 10% in the last year alone.

Data collected by CityLets estimates the average cost of a two-bedroom flat in Edinburgh is now £1111, compared to £675 in Scotland as a whole. Despite such prohibitive expense, Edinburgh has the highest concentration of private renters in Scotland, according to the last census.

"More social housing is needed"

Opinions vary on what solutions the crisis may require. Shelter Scotland director Alison Watson told the National: “More and more people are going to be exposed to the risk of homelessness. The only way to meaningfully address this situation is by urgently building more social homes.

“Our analysis of City of Edinburgh council’s own figures show that 7000 social homes are needed in the capital over the next five years. That’s why Shelter Scotland is urging city leaders across the country to commit to delivering the social homes we so desperately need.”

Landlords seek to expand rental options

Meanwhile, Scottish Association of Landlords chief executive John Blackwood called for a boost to rental properties.

He said: “Increasing the supply of rented accommodation is the only way forward to provide more homes and reduce rents. The Scottish Government needs to support private landlords and encourage investment in the private rented sector while also building more social homes to rent and doing that a lot faster.”

"Housing benefit should be increased"

Kiran Ramchandani, director of policy and external affairs at the homelessness charity Crisis, also commented warning of the pressures of the cost of living.

"Pressure builds up in people’s lives, they start to struggle for every day essentials, and then at some point it becomes too much and they are forced into the trauma and indignity of facing homelessness," she said. "It’s vital the UK Government acts now to prevent a huge rise in homelessness, by ensuring housing benefit covers the true cost of rents.”

What is Edinburgh Council proposing?

Against the backdrop of this crisis, the Edinburgh SNP's council election manifesto this week stated their ambition to be the first local authority in Scotland to implement the rent controls committed to in the Scottish Government's co-operation agreement with the Scottish Greens.

Edinburgh Council leader Adam McVey commented: "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.”

The National:

SNP councillor Kate Campbell, Edinburgh’s housing, homelessness and fair work convener, also told the National: “The pressure on housing in Edinburgh is immense. Partly it’s down to the loss of over ten thousand homes to short-term lets, but it’s also due to a growing population and the loss of 40,000 council homes through right-to-buy.

“That’s why we’ve got the most ambitious house-building programme of any local authority, with a commitment in our SNP manifesto for Edinburgh to spend £2 billion on new council homes. It’s why we’ve been the first city to apply for a short-term let control zone from the Scottish Government. And it’s why in our manifesto the SNP are promising we’ll aim to be the first city in Scotland to implement rent controls, just as soon as the legislation is passed in the Scottish Parliament.”

What are tenants saying?

Some argue that faster progress is necessary on the introduction of rent controls.

Aditi Jehangir of the Living Rent tenants’ union warned that in the city, landlords are putting short-term lets and Airbnbs ahead of long-term properties.

"The failure of the Scottish Government’s Rental Pressure Zones and unscrupulous landlords means that prices have risen beyond the means of most people," she said.

“Increasingly, we hear stories from members going to extreme lengths for rentals - having to bid for properties or pay several months’ rent upfront to secure properties. We need genuinely affordable housing in Edinburgh so people are not priced out of their communities."

This proves the need for rent controls, she added.

“At the moment, members across the country are campaigning around the Scottish Government’s New Deal for Tenants Consultation, to demand a point-based system of rent controls, tied to the property not the lease and to the quality of our homes and not just the whims of the market," she went on. "With the cost-of-living crisis and inflation at a high, tenants just cannot continue with rent increases like this.

“We need rent controls and better protections and we need them now.”