BBC highlights Edinburgh student let scams

Growth in short-term lets combined with surging demand for accommodation have proved a toxic combination for Edinburgh’s student letting market, a BBC investigation has reported.

Scammers are presenting the short-term lets as their own, advertising them at attractive rents, and asking large deposits to secure a ‘tenancy.

Some students spoken to by the BBC had lost thousands of pounds to the scam.

They had been presented with documents that turned out to be forged.

Rents have risen faster in Edinburgh than in any other part of Scotland, said the BBC. A one-bedroom flat in the city now averages at £799 a month.
‘The City of Edinburgh Council is gathering evidence to introduce a rent pressure zone in the city centre. It is also consulting on new planning rules for short-term lets but Scotland-wide legislation has been delayed’.

All this, said the BBC, makes students looking to live in the city while studying vulnerable to scams, profiteering landlords and unsafe accommodation.

It quoted NUS Scotland president Matt Crilly as saying: ‘The current housing crisis in parts of Scotland has left many students homeless with students pushed to look on unregulated websites for accommodation and others staying in hostels and sofa-surfing just to access their education.

‘With new students due to arrive at many universities in January, there is a risk the crisis will be exacerbated. We urgently need the Scottish government to deliver on their promise of a student housing strategy for Scotland and ensure every student has access to safe, affordable housing’.

A Police Scotland spokesman told the BBC that an investigation was under way after officers received reports of potentially fraudulent activity involving flats on Old Fishmarket Close and elsewhere in Edinburgh.

He said: “Police Scotland is acutely aware that criminals will take any opportunity to exploit any situation for their own gain. We would ask the public to continue to be mindful and to call 101 if they have any concerns that you may be the victim of a scam’.