A plea has been issued to north-east housebuilders to sell properties to a charitable trust to help ease a shortage of affordable homes to rent in the region.
The Local Affordable Rented (LAR) Housing Trust, which was launched by Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil last month, is funded by a £55million government loan to build up a portfolio of 1,000 mid-rent homes in Scotland.
Building firms in the north-east have been “slow to bring forward projects” to the charity while it has been “inundated” interest from developers elsewhere in the country.
The plea came as recent figures showed Aberdeen had the highest average rent prices in Scotland. Rental prices have shot up over 36% in the last five years to an average of about £900. This was despite a drop in price of 2.7% last year due to the effects of the oil price crash.
LAR Chief Executive, Christa Reekie, said: “We have identified Aberdeen and the surrounding area, along with Edinburgh, as places in particular need of mid-rent homes. Our aim is to target these areas first before we tackle shortages elsewhere in Scotland.
“However we do need a supply of homes and, whilst we have had tremendous interest in our proposals from around the country, builders in the north-east have been slow to bring forward projects which are in the process of being completed.
“We are looking to help tackle a major housing problem and want to transform the lives of hundreds of families by offering high quality homes at affordable rent levels.”
LAR was set up by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT). It is an extension of the SFT’s National Housing Trust initiative, a funding mechanism which has so far backed the development of around 4,000 affordable homes in Scotland.
The LAR is backed with a £55million government loan and is expected to raise an overall funding package of over £100million through private sector investment.
LAR will be offering 1, 2 and 3 bed properties to tenants who either cannot afford private sector rents or who are unlikely to be able to access social housing.
Properties sold to LAR could help developers meet their obligations to provide social housing. A spokesman for the group said prices paid would vary but would be in line with that paid by housing associations.