SNP rent freeze fueling student housing crisis, landlords say
Conor Shaw, a fourth-year English literature and film student at Glasgow University, has been looking for a flat since June.
The 20-year-old said unless he and his two housemates find a flat soon, he would be forced to travel three hours every day from his parents’ home in Dundee.
He said: “We’ve actually resorted to demand for unfurnished properties which in many cases are maybe £300 or £400 less per month per person. In previous years we haven’t have never considered or had to resort to this.
“If you are unable to find accommodation, the university strongly recommends that you postpone until next year.
“I don’t really like the idea of this because not only would I not be able to graduate with all my friends, but also I have no guarantee that it won’t be the same as this year or worse. “
The University of Glasgow said it “continues to engage with private providers and with local government on issues relating to the city’s private rental market”.
A spokesperson added: “We understand students’ concern about finding accommodation for the new semester, and we are taking a number of steps to support our students and ensure continuity of learning to the extent possible.”
“In some cases, our guidance may include suspending studies for that academic year while ensuring that students continue to have access to university systems and services.”
Isi Williams, vice-president of the University of Edinburgh Students’ Association, revealed that many students had resorted to “short-term and often expensive solutions” such as hostels, Airbnbs and couch surfing .
She said: “We have had reports of students being encouraged by Edinburgh institutions to take time off from their studies, or withdraw altogether, if they are unable to meet the requirements to study in person. .”
“We know that students have applied for hundreds of apartments but have only seen one or two. This shortage of accommodation has led to more students choosing to commute to Edinburgh on a daily basis as it is this is often a cheaper alternative.”
John Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL), dismissed blame for the crisis ‘at the gates of St Andrew’s House’ and warned the situation would ‘become more and more the norm’ unless action is taken immediate are taken.
Mr Blackwood said they had “full sympathy” with students and called on the Scottish Greens and the SNP to invest in the housing sector.
The University of Edinburgh has stressed that it does not operate “any policy to encourage students to postpone or discontinue their studies due to accommodation issues”.
A spokesperson said they were ‘extremely aware’ that ‘some students struggle to find suitable accommodation in Edinburgh’.
“We want to accompany them throughout this increasingly difficult period and have opened the Accommodation Information Service in collaboration with our student association.”