CAMPAIGNERS have called for Scotland-wide rent controls to tackle spiralling property costs across the country.

Living Rent, Scotland’s tenants’ union, said the current system is forcing people into poverty amid “sky-high rents” and slum-like conditions.

Official statistics show the average rent for a two-bedroom property in Edinburgh rose by a third in the seven years to 2017 – more than double the rate of inflation.

Living Rent campaigner Gordon Maloney insisted the Scottish Government needed to take urgent action.

He added: “Tenants can’t wait. If we are serious about ensuring affordable, decent housing for everyone in Scotland, then we need proper rent controls now.”

Living Rent and the left-wing think tank Common Weal have now published a report calling for a points-based system of rent control linked to the quality and amenities of a property, not simply market rates.

This would aim to encourage landlords and letting agents to make improvements, and follows a similar system to the Netherlands.

Under this system, rents would not merely be capped, but dragged down from their current levels – while controls would apply to the entire country “by default”.

Meanwhile, a Scottish Rent Affordability Index would peg maximum rents at affordable levels, with a new umbrella body set up to regulate the sector.

Living Rent and Common Weal said rents across Scotland are far too expensive, with “increases continuing to outstrip both inflation and wage increases for many tenants”.

And while there has been a significant growth in the private rented sector – with lower income groups more likely to live in such housing – its quality is “woefully inadequate”.

Their report said existing powers to implement rent controls, which were brought in under legislation introduced in 2016, are yet to be enforced anywhere in Scotland – while “there are significant grounds to be sceptical that they ever will be”. This is partly because there is currently no comprehensive survey of rent levels on which to base assessments, it said.

Robin McAlpine, director of Common Weal, said effective rent controls were needed to “tip the balance back in favour of tenants”.