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Motion presses Highland Council to cap private rents in Inverness and other communities

By Neil MacPhail


A MOVE to have private house rents capped in Inverness will be considerednext week following claims of “extortionate” sums being charged.

Single bedroom flats and even some bedsits in the city are currentlybeing rented at about £500 per month, with two-bedroom flats attractinga rent of around £800.

This has prompted two SNP members of Highland Council to table a motionfor the full council meeting next Thursday, calling on the localauthority to investigate setting up Rent Pressure Zones (RPZ) for Inverness and other communities facing similar private rents pressure.

RPZ measures are being brought in by the Scottish Government fromDecember 1.

Councils can apply to ministers to have an area designated as an RPZ ifthey can prove that private rents in the area are rising too much, arecausing problems for tenants, or that the local council is coming under pressure to provide housing or subsidise the cost of housing as a result.

If an area is designated an RPZ it means a cap, or maximum limit, is seton how much rents are allowed to increase for existing tenants with aprivate residential tenancy each year in that area.

Scottish ministers must consult landlords’ and tenants’ representativesbefore they make any area an RPZ.

In their motion councillors Richard Laird and Ron McWilliam said:“Highland Council notes the unprecedented high rents for private sectorhousing in Inverness and the pressure this places on both the Highland Housing Register and those individualsand families seeking a home in the city.

“The council therefore agrees to examine and report back on thefeasibility of applying for a Rent Pressure Zone for Invernessand any other community in the Highlands facing similarly expensivehousing rents.”

Cllr Laird, Inverness Central ward, said: “Some of the private rents noware extortionate and it is almost impossible for young single folk tolive in Inverness.

“One of the main reasons for this is that there is not enough affordablehousing in Inverness, and under the right to buy, very few council homesare available for rent.

“I know of one month where 1850 people applied for one-bedroom flats inInverness and 704 for two-bedroom.”

Cllr McWilliam, for Ness-side, said: “There are multiple problems in theproperty market which make it difficult for local people to securedecent housing.

“The SNP government is investing in social housing, with 50,000affordable homes being built in this parliament, 35,000 for affordable rent.

“Ending ‘right to buy’ and rebuilding the social rented stock will makethe housing market work again, but it will take time to reduce privaterental demand.

“We need this (RPZ) to calm private rent increases and raise standards of quality.

“Creating rent pressure zones in the Highlandscould be a sensible, proportionate measure to stop landlords fromgetting too greedy during periods of extreme demand.

“It is both unfair and socially harmful that private rents increase manytimes more than wage inflation simply due to market demand.

“Rent pressure zones ought to helpalleviate some of that suffering.”

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