Joint managing director of the national online property management firm, David Alexander, says there’s an increasing number of English landlords seeking advice from the Scottish lettings market as the eviction moratorium deadline approaches.
Scotland introduced new letting rules in 2017 and made no-fault evictions (the equivalent of Section 21 in England and Wales) illegal in the country. Now, Scottish landlords are having to navigate a new residential tenancy regime that gives tenants much greater security of tenure. It necessitates a more conciliatory approach which English and Welsh landlords may yet have to deal with, thinks Mr Alexander.
However, Covid has brought forward the need for English & Welsh landlords to strike a balance, to approach the landlord – tenant relationship in a different way than perhaps many have hitherto been used to.
Over the last few weeks says Alexander, apropos has been contacted by many English landlords seeking advice on how to deal with their tenants over issues created during the moratorium on evictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
In Scotland, landlords have learned to “develop a more conciliatory and mutually beneficial means of working with tenants which has proved particularly effective during the pandemic,” says Alexander.
English and Welsh landlords know this and have been contacting the firm to seek advice about lessons learned in Scotland, and on how they deal with their tenants. The eviction bad in particular has become a major issue for many landlords who now find themselves without recourse to the courts and the default Section 21 route to eviction when rent arrears, causing damage to property or anti-social behaviour raises its ugly head.
Alexander says the problem is exacerbated by the fact that many landlords have failed to established close working relationships with their tenants prior to the pandemic “so communication is not as open and effective as it needs to be to deal with these difficult circumstances.”
“I would encourage all landlords and agents to establish a strong dialogue to see if a negotiation on payments is possible. We have found that the majority of tenants are amenable to this approach,” Alexander comments.
The tenancy law changes introduced in Scotland some time ago have introduced a regulatory regime that is very different compared with the rest of the UK, with legislation which is much more tenant friendly. Landlords and agents have had no choice but to develop closer relationships with their tenants and evolve “more effective communication strategies so that everyone involved understands what is happening, what the processes are, and can generate workable solutions to difficult circumstances.”
Mr Alexander, writing for Scottish Housing News said,
“Evictions are always a last resort but sometimes they are inevitable and necessary. This is unfortunate but true. However, if the landlord, agents, and tenants have developed good communications and understand each other then this can go a long way to help avoiding confrontation.
“There will always be tenants who avoid rent payments and there will always be landlords and agents who immediately call for evictions. The best solution is somewhere in the middle. Encourage the tenant to pay through negotiation and it is a win-win situation for all involved.
“To have to go to court to evict is costly, time consuming, and unprofitable but occasionally necessary so it does happen, but no-one should undertake this lightly. If you can come to an agreement with the tenant, the outcome will be more positive.!
“The Scottish system has made everyone involved in the private rented sector become more understanding of each other’s circumstances and attuned to their needs. The result is a system that has been more able to adapt to these extraordinary circumstances.”