Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Real EstateUK

Campaigners renew calls for affordable housing, rent control

Boroughmuir High School

Flats in the former Boroughmuir High School have recently appeared on the rental market

Campaigners have renewed calls for more affordable housing and rent controls after it emerged private flats in a former public building were being let out for “completely unaffordable” prices of up to £2,500 a month.

Flats in the former Boroughmuir High School – sold to developers CALA by the City of Edinburgh Council in 2015 for £14.5m – have recently appeared on the rental market.

London estate agent OpenRent is advertising a one-bed Boroughmuir apartment for £1,250 a month while Glenham Property is marketing a three-bed for £2,500.

Housing campaigners have reacted angrily, with tenant’s union Living Rent claiming the high prices demonstrate “why we have a housing crisis in Scotland”.

The housing charity, Shelter Scotland, called for investment in social housing in the capital while others said rent controls, a ban on absentee overseas landlords and a transparent property ownership register were needed.

CALA bought the Edinburgh High School building in Bruntsfield, outbidding community group out of the blue which hoped to develop an arts hub in the school featuring studios, performance areas and workshops.

CALA is now offering buy-to-let investors “a healthy return” if they purchase its new one to four-bed upmarket Boroughmuir apartments, which cost between £480,000 and £845,000.

The developer is also offering up to £11,370 as an investor incentive package to guarantee prospective landlords their first six months’ rental income.

The partially-completed apartment complex will consist of 87 luxury apartments and 17 affordable flats on behalf of Link Housing Association. CALA will also provide council funding for a further nine affordable flats elsewhere. It says these will be the first affordable flats built in the area for decades.

But Living Rent’s Muireann Crowley claimed that the luxury end of the housing market was always given precedence.

The profitable developments are consistently favoured over desperately needed social housing, she argued. Low and middle-income workers are being systematically priced out of the city centre.

Living Rent has long called for proper rent controls to bring private rents down in Scotland and disincentivize buy-to-let landlordism.

Meanwhile Shelter Scotland warned that the capital’s city centre and neighbouring council areas have the highest levels of unmet need.

Alison Watson, director of Shelter Scotland added: The private market has long been beyond the means of far too many, especially in property hotspots like Edinburgh.

He said: We need to see more affordable homes, and particularly social homes built in areas where they are in greatest demand.

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