Readers' letters: Make second home harder to buy

Many of my friends and associates are second or indeed multiple home owners, purchased through leveraging their existing properties in order to purchase the next one.

Keylocks are a familiar sight across Edinburgh, which critics say has been blighted by Airbnb short-term lets
Keylocks are a familiar sight across Edinburgh, which critics say has been blighted by Airbnb short-term lets

A perfectly legitimate scheme you may imagine, until one considers the social harm caused through such an exercise.

If, like me, you believe in people having the opportunity to own their own home, then it must be recognised that generations have been excluded through a wealthier, older cohort purchasing the existing housing stock.

The problem has been amplified with the recent explosion of Airbnb, particularly in Edinburgh, further reducing the housing stock opportunities for first time buyers.

I understand there must be a mix of owner-occupied and rental properties available. However, as we have seen over the past 30 years the value of properties has increased significantly, making buy to let or buy to holiday let a virtually risk-free investment.

According to the Citylets report, Edinburgh's rental rates grew by 14.2 per cent year-on-year during the first quarter of 2022, taking the average rent to a new all-time high of £1214 per month.

I, therefore, am in favour of the First Minister’s proposal to freeze rents for six months to protect the most vulnerable tenants.

A blunt instrument, I recognise, but the crisis is so acute that whatever measures are within the powers of the Scottish Government should be taken to alleviate the financial stress.

However, it should not end there. I would support further measures to make buy to let and second home ownership less attractive proposals and allow the younger generation a chance to climb the property ladder.Scotland boasts a highly successful and sophisticated financial services sector which can provide altern-ative investment vehicles to the housing market.

Michael Ure, Edinburgh.

UK asylum system unfir for purpose

Alastair Murray (letters, September 12) selects only negative facts on Denmark and Ireland, and avoids describing the UK asylum system.

UK ministers often say people don’t need protection, but fail to have a robust system of independent monitoring of decision making. Forced returns by the UK to countries monitored by NGOs such as Freedom from Torture on Sri Lanka, have proved unsafe.

The UK has a policy of preventing those seeking international protection from working and contributing. If they do they can be deported as foreign criminals to unsafe places.

On Rwanda, UNHCR have condemned the UK’s approach of off-loading responsibility and to a country with a poor human rights record. Sending people when they have not been through any decision making process at vast expense to an unsafe country is bizarre and cruel.

Ireland has EU support. They are doing well. They have European and EU rights in place which protect their citizens. They can trade with the EU, a huge bloc, nearby whereas the UK has deliberately cut itself off from the EU trading bloc through Brexit.

Scotland as an independent country, close to the EU, could be similar to Ireland and with an immigration system to suit its economy, adhering to the Geneva Convention.

Pol Yates, Edinburgh.

Robust constitution

The clinching argument for any debate on an elected head of state as opposed to a constitutional monarchy is surely the examples of Putin, Trump, Hussein and even Hitler, all elected.

Both systems tend to throw up extremely bad apples every so often, but, in general, a monarchy tends to be above politics. Perhaps something more akin to the Scandinavian model would be the answer, if needed.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.

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