The cost of privately renting in West Dunbartonshire has skyrocketed in the past year, according to new figures.
New Scottish Government statistics reveal private rents for two bedroom properties have increased by 7.1 percent in real terms over the last year – the highest rise in the country.
Politicians say the dramatic increases underlines the need for emergency rent controls – but a local estate agent said the rise is down to supply and demand, with lack of availability forcing up prices.
Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie said: “These statistics have underlined the urgent need to protect local tenants from unfair rent hikes.
“It is deeply disturbing that, in the midst of a pandemic, rent prices are continuing to rise well above the rate of inflation.
“Tenants have now endured over a decade of rising rents. This must end.
“It’s time for the Scottish Parliament to grab the bull by the horns and stand up for tenants by supporting the Fair Rents legislation Scottish Labour has consistently proposed.”
Nationally, the figures show there were estimated increases over the past year in average rents for one bedroom homes of 3.8 percent, with four bedrooms going for 13.2 percent higher and one bedroom shared properties for three percent more.
The picture is similar across Scotland. Since 2010, the average rent for a two bed property has risen from £554 to £693 – a huge increase of 25.1 percent.
Victoria Wassell, manager of the Helensburgh branch of the Property Bureau said a lack of stock was driving prices up.
She explained: “There’s not enough stock and because of the lack of stock, it’s just forcing prices up and landlords are able to take advantage of this.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are aware that many private rented tenants have been struggling financially as a result of the pandemic and that rising rent costs will only have exacerbated the problem which is why we have provided £39million to support tenants struggling at this time.
“We have also committed to tackling high rents by implementing an effective national system of rent controls by the end of 2025.
“In the next few weeks we will publish a draft Rented Sector Strategy for consultation. That will seek views on changes to tenancy arrangements as well as taking forward the consensus on improving information about rents, leading to options for rent controls and better regulation.”