Students from all over the UK and rest of Europe are coming to Edinburgh to join the city’s universities as the new semester starts.
The vacancies in halls of residence are limited and students may not meet the criteria and are forced to look into the private sector.
Private accommodation is generally let on Short Assured Tenancy which is a 6 month lease, which barely covers a single semester. After this time students will have to negotiate with their landlord whether or not they can renew their lease or have to return to house hunting. Considering the effort required to find a house, together with the cost of moving house, where the landlord at times demands 2 months rent in advance. For some people, not only for students, might create a helpless situation.
Shelter, The housing and homelessness charity, revealed in the Scottish annual report in 2006 that 8% (4,373) of homeless applications is due to loss of private sector tenancy.
Applications that were considered homeless were either; homeless, or likely to become homeless within 28 days; they were only able to stay where they are temporarily, or, they can not stay in their home because of violence, overcrowding, poor conditions or serious financial problems. Reasons that are real to many of Edinburgh’s students today. Being homeless is defined by Shelter as “without somewhere warm, safe and secure, somewhere you can welcome friends; receive post; or carry out many other aspects of daily life.”
This according to Shelter’s statistics from 2006, is affecting thousands of families and individuals each year.
People who are homeless may have a roof over their head but are living either in hostels, bed & breakfast or in overcrowded conditions.
With over 40,000 homeless households in Scotland and thousands of people stuck in temporary accommodation, the charity said this was no time to be nonchalant about the problem of homelessness and a lack of housing.
Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, warned that without a major boost to the supply of affordable rented housing, Scotland could see a rise in the already substantial backlog of households stuck in temporary accommodation.
Is it time for universities and local governments to open their eyes and look for solutions?