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Private rents surging in Scotland despite controls

Private rental prices have risen by 5.7% year-on-year despite the country controlling rents, analysis from estate agent DJ Alexander has revealed.

The Scottish government froze rents and introduced an eviction ban in September 2022, before capping in-tenancy rate increases at 3% until 31 March next year.

Seeing as rent increases are now limited when tenants remain at the property, it’s likely landlords are introducing bigger hikes when one set of tenants leave and before a new cohort move in.

David Alexander, chief executive of DJ Alexander Ltd, said: “We can see that rents in Scotland have continued to rise at a very fast rate since the legislative changes introduced last September.

“These increases have been as a response to the legislation but also a reaction to unprecedented demand coupled with increasingly limited supply. The result has been rapid rent increases and a lot of tenant frustration at being unable to find accommodation.

“In July alone we received nearly 40,000 enquiries for viewings for our rental properties with nearly 30,000 of these in Edinburgh alone. This is a clear indication that supply is not remotely approaching demand which results in these rent increases.”

The 5.7% annual rent increase is the highest monthly figure since the data began to be collected in January 2012 and is up from 3.9% in September 2022 when the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) Scotland Bill was introduced.

That bill capped mid-tenancy rental price increases to 0% (and up to 3% in certain circumstances) until 31 March 2023, and was extended on 1 April 2023 to allow the rental price increase cap to increase to 3% (and up to 6% in certain circumstances).

While rental prices have increased by a lower amount in Scotland than in England and Wales since 2015 the rate of increase has been growing rapidly over the last year.

For example, from January 2015 to September 2022 rents in Scotland increased by 8.7%. The accumulated rate to July 2023 is now 14.1%, so has risen substantially in the last 10 months compared to the previous eight years.

Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf has pledged to introduce rent controls and new tenant rights in a major new housing bill.