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Shortage of Inverness rental properties force letting agents to ‘close viewings within an hour’

By Rachel Smart

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Inverness is still facing a lack of long-term rental property.
Inverness is still facing a lack of long-term rental property.

Inverness is still experiencing a shortage of rental properties with only seven properties available, according to the property website Rightmove.

One letting agency in Inverness had to suspend viewings for a rental property within an hour due to the high volume of applications it received.

However the number of applications per property has dropped since last year, going from 15-20 to around eight.

According to Macleod and MacCallum, the average rental price for a one-bedroom property is £560 and a two-bedroom property is averaging at £750 per month.

Residential lettings manager at Macleod and MacCallum, Sarah-Anne Gow, said: “The rental market remains very competitive due to a lack of rental properties coming to the market.

“The Scottish Association of Landlord has estimated that the Scottish rental market may have seen a reduction of approximately 22,000 rental properties in the past year.”

Sarah Anne Gow, Macleod and MacCallum.
Sarah Anne Gow, Macleod and MacCallum.

Speaking about why there is a lack of stock of rental properties, she added: “[This is] partly due to landlords exiting from the private rented sector primarily due to unfavourable Scottish Government regulations.”

Another reason that there may be a reason for the lack of long-term rental properties is due to the growth of holiday accommodation in the area.

The Inverness Courier reported last year that there had been a 200 per cent increase in Airbnb’s in the past five years.

This has been impacting people who have been renting and are then asked to move out by landlords in order to make it into a holiday home.

Matthew Orme (51) had been in a rental property when he was told by his landlord that he would have four months to find a new place, as they were planning on turning the house into an Airbnb.

Speaking about his experience, Mr Orme said: “Where I was staying was really nice and when I moved there I was hoping that would be me for a while.

“I stayed there for about a year when my landlord told me he was going to rent it out as an Airbnb.

“It’s not been a great situation, and it has been difficult to find somewhere else to live.

“I was going on the internet and if you don’t apply for something that day, it’s gone. Letting agents are just inundated with requests.”

The Scottish Government’s Short Term Rent License regulations introduced last year make it mandatory for hosts of such properties to apply for a licence before accepting bookings or receiving guests.

However, it has been argued by some that controls should go even further, in the form of short-term rental control areas where councils can restrict or prevent short-term lets that affect the availability of residential housing and the character of the local community.

Mr Omre, who works as a driver, now thinks that there should be a cap on the number of short-term lets available in Inverness.

He added: “I think it's horrendous as people can’t afford somewhere to live long term.

“There is no way I could afford a house, so I have to rent and then everyone is getting on the bandwagon of Airbnb, which shouldn’t be allowed to the extent that it is.

“It just seems the rich are getting richer and the middle and poor are suffering because of it.”

Karine Macrae Simpson, director of Tailormade Moves, said: “I think the rental market is still as competitive as it was.

“For example, we marked a flat as ‘viewings suspended’ after an hour of it being advertised this morning.

Karine MacRae Simpson, director, Tailormade Moves.
Karine MacRae Simpson, director, Tailormade Moves.

“We are however noticing that some people are cancelling viewings and we have had a few people pull out of properties last minute. I think this is due to people hedging their bets and applying for multiple properties at the same time.

“We open a viewing slot and arrange perhaps eight viewings per property, on average more than half the viewers will ask to apply for the property.

“There is a shortage of rental properties with some landlords choosing to sell their properties.”

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