SCOTLAND’S cost-of-living squeeze has intensified as “out of control” rents have soared by up to one third in the last decade.

Concerns over surging rent prices come amid weak wage growth and new figures showing the pound’s weakness since the Brexit vote has pushed consumer prices up by three per cent in the last year.

Combined with rising private rents for two-bedroom homes – the most common size of property – investment director Maike Currie at Fidelity International said “cash-strapped consumers will continue to feel the pinch as wages lag price rises”.

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Rents have risen in all 18 large areas across Scotland apart from Aberdeen city and shire, Argyll and Bute and West Dunbartonshire.

High streets in crisis: Scotland losing shops faster then rest of UK

Lothian now has the highest average monthly rent at £888 – up seven per cent in a year – while Glasgow stands at £745.

HeraldScotland:

The Scottish Household Survey also shows the proportion of young people aged 16 to 34 who privately rent has increased from 25 per cent to 40 per cent over the past 10 years.

Ben Wray, head of policy at the Common Weal think tank, said the cost of private rents in Scotland is “out of control”.

He added: “For those struggling on low incomes, every pound extra spent on rent is a pound less on essentials like food and heating.

“While rents have risen by one third in Edinburgh and Glasgow since 2010, wages have stagnated. It can’t go on like this.”

A housing shortage has been blamed for soaring rents, with £1.75 billion of Scottish Government funding recently allocated to councils to stimulate investment in affordable housing. The SNP aims to deliver 50,000 affordable homes by 2021.

HeraldScotland: House prices are rising

Adam Lang, head of policy at Shelter Scotland, believes rent increases threaten to put people at risk of losing their home.

He said: “It is not the fault of renters that there is a massive shortage of housing. They shouldn’t face homelessness because of a failure of successive governments to build enough affordable homes.”

Mr Lang added private renters were the largest group who contacted the charity for help last year. “We already know that a great many families are struggling day-to-day to keep a roof over their heads and rent rises like these will hurt those already living on a knife-edge,” he added.

The figures are based on advertised rents for new lets and do not reflect changes in rents for existing tenants. Official ONS statistics suggest rents across Scottish private rented households have risen at less than half the rate in England.

But Scottish Labour’s housing spokeswoman, Pauline McNeill, said the new figures highlighted the “chronic need” to introduce rent controls and start building more housing.

She said: “Many families are being forced into the private rented sector because they can’t afford a mortgage, yet the levels of rent mean they are unable to save for a deposit, trapping them in a cycle of despair they are unable to escape.”

High streets in crisis: Scotland losing shops faster then rest of UK

A new private residential tenancy is due to be introduced in Scotland on December 1. This has been designed to give greater protection against unreasonable rent increases. 

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We have taken action to ensure the law is strengthened, including measures to address excessive rents where appropriate.  

“Importantly, tenants will be able to refer rent increases for adjudication without fear of their tenancy being ended. And it will introduce the ability for local authorities to apply to have areas designated as ‘rent pressure zones’, which will be a valuable tool where rents are rising significantly.”