Reflecting the views of some of Scotland’s leading campaigning groups on evictions, David Alexander, joint managing director of leading property management service apropos is advising landlords to exercise caution.
In an open letter signed by housing charity organisations including Shelter Scotland, Glasgow Night Shelter and the Scottish Refugee Council, they are calling on Scottish Housing Minister Kevin Stewart to extend emergency powers against evictions when Parliament meets on 11 August. The charities’ appeal follows on from a recommendation by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that the Scottish ban be extended until September 2021.
In the meantime David Alexander is saying that with the length of the COVID-19 pandemic uncertain, with unemployment potentially about to rise considerably, and the future of the economy so uncertain, “now is not the time to disrupt tenants’ lives with the prospect of evictions.”
Mr Alexander’s property management firm has said that, “evicting people from their homes should not be considered in the current climate and that the welfare and well-being of tenants and landlords must remain paramount as long as the continued impact of the coronavirus pandemic remains.”
Nice sentiments, but of course a cynical landlord might suggest that it’s going to be difficult if not impossible to appease both parties in all cases.
In an article published in Scottish Housing News Mr Alexander’s intervention comes amid rumours that the Scottish Government may well be minded to extended the notice period previously set out in the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020, for a further six months.
Mr Alexander is quoted as saying:
“During these extraordinary times it is essential that agents and landlords work closely with tenants to develop and maintain a strong relationship to produce the best outcome for all involved. Excellent communication is essential in ensuring that everyone understands the current circumstances and is prepared to liaise and negotiate to find solutions which are appropriate for each individual situation.
“In March, our firm wrote to all of our tenants asking them if they were facing any issues or problems due to the pandemic and encouraging them to get in touch as soon as possible to see how we could resolve these issues. This ensured that tenants felt comfortable about communicating and clear that their concerns would be listened to with a sympathetic ear.”
Some of apropos 500 or so tenants and landlords have reduced rents, they have agreed payment plans, and in some cases rents have been cancelled altogether. Working out just what solution is best for each individual tenant and landlord is the key to good relations in the private rented sector Mr Alexander says.
These of course are intended to be temporary solutions for these unusual times and there would be every intension of getting rent payments on track again as soon as possible to avoid rent arrears becoming a major issue. Landlords are not legally obliged to forego rents and can expect arrears to be made-up wherever possible.
Mr Alexander concluded:
“There has, in the past, been a tendency to portray the landlord and tenant relationship as an ‘us and them’ situation. The truth is that both are interdependent on one another and need to work with agents to create a fair and fully functioning connection.
“Landlords must understand that their property is not just giving them an income but is providing a home and a roof over someone’s head who requires respect and understanding. Through developing workable and just solutions during this difficult period tenants, agents, and landlords can develop a mutually respectful relationship where the actions of each during this time will be remembered for many years to come.”