Dundee rental room prices have soared by an extraordinary 33% in the space of a single year as tenants face the brunt of the cost-of-living crisis.
Renters in the city searching for a new home on leading flatshare site SpareRoom faced the second highest increase in the UK, behind only Sunderland in north-east England.
The data – which showed an average room in Dundee now costs £587 – comes as the Scottish Government faces pressure over plans to continue capping rent rises.
The SNP and Greens introduced a price freeze to ban nearly all rent rises in October for six months to help tenants struggling to meet costs.
They confirmed earlier this month price increases will be capped at 3% after March and evictions will still be banned.
Critics warned the policy may encourage landlords to leave the sector and have instead encouraged the government to ramp up housebuilding.
What is SpareRoom?
SpareRoom is the biggest UK website where people can search for a flatshare in homes which are already being rented out.
Landlords also commonly advertise vacant properties on the site.
While rent increases have been blocked by Holyrood, there is no cap on what can be charged for an empty flat going on the market.
Statistics from SpareRoom showed the price rise in Dundee had been coupled with a 35% increase in demand for flats.
The city was measured against Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland, along with towns and cities in England.
As of January 27, there was just less than one room available for every six people registered as searching in Dundee.
By contrast, in Glasgow and Edinburgh there was just under one room free for every two people hunting for a rental home.
Meanwhile, in Aberdeen there were more flats available than the number of people searching for a room, despite soaring demand in the city.
Local politicians said the new figures were extremely worrying for tenants.
Dundee Labour MSP Mercedes Villalba said: “Rents being racked up by a third during the cost-of-living crisis is a devastating blow for hard pressed and poverty-stricken tenants.
“It’s clear from this finding that a complete rent freeze is needed until the permanent system of rental controls promised by the Scottish Government is introduced.”
Labour in Dundee previously fought for a full rent freeze for tenants in council houses to be extended beyond March.
Party councillor Georgia Cruickshank said: “I think it is inconceivable that the private sector rents have risen so much.
“This will have the effect of pricing families, single people and students out of the private rental sector at a time when social housing and student accommodation is in short supply.”
Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie, who is tenants’ rights chief, defended the government’s approach in Holyrood on Thursday.
He said there had been no decline in the number of rental homes available as a result of the price freeze.
Mr Harvie told MSPs: “Since devolution the Scottish Housing Survey shows a very significant growth in private tenancies through a period of increased regulation.”
Mid Scotland and Fife Tory MSP Liz Smith insisted the government’s rent freeze was not helping renters.
She said: “It’s all very well to say that it’s helping the cost of living situation, which it is, but it’s also creating some worrying reactions from landlords which are now hindering rather than helping the housing market.”
Her party colleague Miles Briggs warned Scotland has a “critical shortage of housing” which is creating increased demand in the rental sector.