Letters: Private rented sector needs more legal control

The Scottish Government’s first Private Sector Rent Statistics, which revealed in parts of Scotland, including the Lothians, rent has increased, will no doubt become a worry to those in the private rented sector (PRS).

There are, of course, unscrupulous landlords, which can result in tenants being at the mercy of these practitioners. If they happen to live in one of their properties and don’t want to vacate, they are in a difficult position – cough up the extra cash or get out. For many people this can be deeply distressing if they have put down their roots.

What we need is to have greater legislation to tackle such cowboys. The vast majority of this generation of landlords and agents are responsible business people or individual investors who see their properties as long-term assets.

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Legislation, with a robust set of regulations and high standards of accreditation, is therefore welcomed and encouraged by the majority in order to rid the industry of the rogue operators and indeed raise the status of the profession.

I would also argue that it needs to be done at pace to keep up with the changes in the market and to ensure that both tenants and landlords are protected.

The sector as a whole needs the means to thrive, so investors (large and small) should be encouraged to invest, and invest sensibly, not only in new properties but also in the fabric of their existing portfolios hence assuring tenants of the standards of any tenancy.

As the property market evolves, it is important to see the private rented sector not as a cause of a lack of housing, but as offering one viable solution to it. It is meeting a new demand within the property sector.

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For it to work, though, it also needs a holistic and open-minded approach to how a rental property can be someone’s ‘home sweet home’ just as much as a purchased property.

Malcolm Cannon, CEO, Braemore, North Charlotte Street, Edinburgh

Meadows CCTV needed as a matter of urgency

AFTER the horrific rape of a 19-year-old woman, it is encouraging to see that thousands of people have signed a new petition demanding CCTV be installed at the Meadows.

Young women are vulnerable walking alone, and it is essential that monitors be installed for everyone’s safety without delay.

Mrs June Fleming, Hercus Loan, Musselburgh

Help support Scottish children at Christmas

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It’s so important at this special time of year to remember those families who dread Christmas rather than look forward to it.

For many children, family issues like bereavement, isolation, financial hardship, food shortages and terrible housing make Christmas an especially difficult time of year.

For the last few years I’ve been working hard to raise awareness of Home-Start, a remarkable charity that has helped more than 4000 children and their families in Scotland in the last year.

Their skilled and dedicated volunteers offer emotional and practical support to families facing hardship or tragedy.

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The Snowflake Appeal was set up to help Home-Start raise vital funds for the amazing work they do with vulnerable children and their parents throughout the year.

I am asking if you could make a donation or fundraise for the appeal – there is nothing better that you can do for those children this Christmas time.

Every child is as unique and fragile as a snowflake, and all children deserve the best start in life

To find out how you can help make this a reality, including the chance to buy an exclusive Christmas card 
commissioned by me, go to www.snowflake.org.uk. Your support will give all Home-Start’s children a happy Christmas and will keep on helping them through hard times in 2015.

Kirstie Allsopp, Ambassador, Home-Start UK

Stop eating meat to cure deadly viruses

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With news of a new avian influenza, or bird flu, outbreak and the killing cycle that’s been kicked into high gear in an attempt to contain it, isn’t it time we focus on the cause of these deadly viruses before it’s too late?

Diseases run rampant on crowded, filthy, factory farms, where thousands of birds are forced to live amid their own faeces and the rotting corpses of other animals.

As Hans-Gerhard Wagner, a senior officer with the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation, has said, the intensive industrial farming of livestock is an “opportunity for emerging disease”.

The way to prevent future outbreaks of bird flu, SARS, swine flu and other animal-borne diseases is to stop raising billions of animals for meat, eggs and dairy products.

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We must take responsibility for our actions, which impact not only animals but also humans, and we can all be part of the solution by making the only rational choice: to leave animals off our plates.

Visit PETA.org.uk to order a free vegan starter kit and find out more about how we can all help to prevent future outbreaks of animal and human diseases.

Harriet Barclay, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), All Saints Street, London