AN expert on housing policy in Europe has outlined the lessons Scotland can learn from countries such as Austria in order to solve the housing crisis.

Speaking to National columnist Assa Samake-Roman during the latest episode of the Our Friends in Europe podcast, Sorcha Edwards, the secretary general of Housing Europe, outlined the successes of some European countries in providing affordable, long-term housing for its citizens.

Housing Europe is a network of more than 40 national and regional housing federations across 31 countries in Europe.

In total, they manage around 25 million homes.

While Edwards noted that European countries face much of the same housing pressures as Scotland does – such as extortionate rental prices and inadequate levels of housebuilding – she noted that some countries were coping better than others.

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“In my daily life I’m also hearing from family, from friends, all over, who try to move a new city,” she said.

[It’s] super challenging. We see the bigger picture, the generalised housing challenge, and we see figures which show 46% of people in the private rental sector are fearing losing their home.

“We see, too, massive increases in interest rates, which can mean even if you already have a mortgage you could see up to €300 extra on your mortgage per year and up to 100% increase in some cases in rent.”

However, moves to introduce so-called limited-profit housing have also had an impact in alleviating housing pressures, added Edwards.

For example, limited-profit housing developers in Austria are only permitted to make profits to a certain extent, which they must then reinvest in new construction or refurbishment projects.

As compensation for this agreement, they are exempt from the country’s corporation tax.

“We hear about local municipal housing companies that are building, renting out and managing homes, working on innovations like intergenerational communities,” said Edwards.

“We see new rental co-operatives coming up and people being able to live there in security with an unending tenure in their rental contract.

“We also see organisations where people have security, have stability in the limited-profit and public sector.

The National:

“But where you have a critical mass is perhaps countries like Austria where [they] have managed to maintain levels of limited profit construction at 20%.

“There’s a cross-party political agreement [in Austria] that this is a priority. They’ve managed to keep a critical mass of people living in limited profit housing.

“We’ve seen this in Austria, in Finland and also up to 20% in Denmark living in that way.

“But I think the only country where we have proven impact of suppressed market prices is Austria. We have the data to show that. That it’s actually bringing down the private rental prices.

“Because even if you have excellent housing projects in the public sphere, if you have zero regulation on short-term lets, zero regulation on rents, zero regulation to link housing to people’s income, then it’s not enough.

“We need to touch on the supply but we also need to look at the regulatory framework. And that’s always where politically it’s so challenging.”

The full podcast is available embedded above.