Virtually from the day we were born, we have been told that everyone should own their own home. In 1971, around 50% of people owned their own home and, as the baby-boomers got better jobs and pay, that proportion of home owners rose to 69% by 2001. Homeownership was here to stay as many baby boomers assumed it’s very much a cultural thing here in Britain to own your own home.
But on the back of TV programmes like Homes Under the Hammer, these same baby boomers started to jump on the band wagon of Edinburgh buy to let properties as an investment. Edinburgh first time buyers were in competition with Edinburgh landlords to buy these smaller starter homes… pushing house prices up in the 2000’s (as mentioned in Part One) beyond the reach of first time buyers. Alas, it is not as simple as that. Many factors come into play, such as economics, the banks and government policy. But are Edinburgh landlords fanning the flames of the Edinburgh housing crisis bonfire?
I believe that the landlords of the 56,507 Edinburgh rental properties are not exploitive and are in fact, making many positive contributions to Edinburgh and the people of Edinburgh. Like I have said before, Edinburgh (and the rest of Scotland and the UK) isn’t building enough properties to keep up the demand; with high birth rate, job mobility, growing population and longer life expectancy.
For Scotland to standstill and meet current demand, the country needs to be building 30,000 new households each and every year. Nationally, we are currently running at 16,270 and in the early part of this decade were running at around 14,000.
So let us look at what this means for Edinburgh…
For Edinburgh to meet its obligation on the building of new homes, Edinburgh would need to build 2,729 households each year. Yet, we are missing that figure by around 1,249 households a year.
For the Government to buy the land and build those additional 1,249 households, it would need to spend £251,313,163 a year in Edinburgh alone. Add up all the additional households required over the whole of Scotland as well the UK and the Government would need to spend £1.86bn and £23.31bn respectively each year… the Country hasn’t got that sort of money!
With these problems, it is the property developers who are buying the old run-down houses and office blocks which are deemed uninhabitable by the local authority, and turning them into new attractive homes to either be rented privately to Edinburgh families or Edinburgh people who need council housing because the local authority hasn’t got enough properties to go around.
The bottom line is that, as the population grows, there aren’t enough properties being built for everyone to have a roof over their head. The regulation that the Scottish Government is introducing into the Private Rented Sector in Scotland should put rogue landlords out of business and give tenants the more regulated rental market they should be able to expect, with greater security for tenants, where they can rely on good landlords providing them high standards from their safe and modernised home. As in Europe, where most people rent rather than buy, it doesn’t matter who owns the house – all people want is a clean, decent roof over their head at a reasonable rent.
So only you, the reader, can decide if buy to let is immoral, but first let me ask this question – if the private buy to let landlords had not taken up the slack and provided a roof over these people’s heads over the last decade… where would these tenants be living now? because the alternative doesn’t even bear thinking about!