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Landlords burdened by extra costs in Scotland’s Capital

Private landlords in Edinburgh look set to incur unforeseen extra costs as the local city council introduce new rules surrounding Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMOs).

Edinburgh Council are now writing to all landlords of HMOs requesting them to carpet all hard floor surfaces, after they have been inundated with complaints from tenants regarding noise levels in flats. The council now want all living areas in HMOs fitted with carpets and kitchens and bathrooms to be kitted out with good quality cushioned flooring. The new rule will come into force on April 1st 2013 and many landlords are furious with the council decision.

Jake McGillivray, a landlord in the Waverley district of the city, was extremely disappointed with decision, saying “It is completely ridiculous, they are using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut. It won’t even be a case of a one off payment, landlords often have to re-carpet a place every time a tenant moves out and that is why wooden floors are so popular. At a time when tenant groups complain about rental charges going up, the council are forcing landlord’s hands. If I have to spend money on carpets, which will also add to landlord insurance and cleaning bills, then I obviously have to pass some of it on.”

A council spokeswoman was unrepentant about the decision saying most landlords will already have carpets in their properties and went on to say: “All residents living in a common stair have the right to live in their own home without being disturbed by their neighbours. Carpets greatly assist in reducing noise levels from people walking above, especially in Houses of Multiple Occupation, where footfall is increased.”

Edinburgh Council to help with house shortage

Council chiefs in Scotland’s Capital are to lend over £21 million to Housing Associations in the city to facilitate the building of another two hundred affordable properties in order to help with the current housing shortage.

The new homes will be covered by landlord insurance before being leased to tenants for what is being classed as a “mid-market” rent. This will be set somewhere between social and private rents, but at a level that low-income working families can afford.

The council are planning to borrow the money needed before lending it to registered social landlords throughout Edinburgh. The social landlords are themselves finding it extremely hard in the current climate to borrow money. The idea behind the plan is that the council will lend the money to social landlords who in turn will provide properties for tenants on a low income, with the cash involved improving Edinburgh’s chances of meeting the current high demand for rental properties.

There is currently a demand for over four thousand homes from low income families who are unable to buy their own properties. Although they can’t afford to get on the property ladder they are also highly unlikely to be given priority for social housing because they are working. Edinburgh is the most popular place to live in Scotland, with around 130 bids placed for each property advertised by both the council and social landlords.

City housing leader, Councillor Paul Edie, said “This initiative is an innovative way of dealing with the shortage. The council can borrow money much more cheaply than registered social landlords so we are using our prudential borrowing muscle here. We are going to invite bids so that every registered social landlord in Edinburgh has an opportunity. We have a chronic shortage of affordable housing in the city, which includes mid-market rent for hard-working families.”

The £21m is expected to fund 70% of the cost of building the new homes, with social landlords getting the other 30% from private lenders. The council expect to make an official decision in August.