17 Sep 2020

Landlords operating in England are increasingly seeking evictions advice from their Scottish counterparts, according to property management firm Apropos.

The platform says it has been contacted by a high number of English landlords seeking advice on how to deal with evictions during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Evictions in England have been banned since March and courts are scheduled to resume hearing possession cases from Monday September 21.

However, last week the government revealed it was making more concessions, including a commitment not to have evictions over Christmas and no enforcement action in areas under local lockdown.

Notice periods have also been increased to six months, with the aim of preventing tenants being evicted over winter. There will be exceptions with shorter notices for the most ‘egregious’ cases of anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse or fraud.

Apropos notes that in Scotland ‘no fault evictions’ – equivalent to Section 21 evictions south of the border – are already banned with Scottish tenants having a greater security of tenure.

It says that because of this, landlords in Scotland have had to develop a more ‘conciliatory and mutually beneficial’ way of working with tenants – an approach which could be adopted by English landlords.

“Evictions have become a major issue for some landlords [in England] who find themselves unsupported by government and forced into a corner by emergency legislation restricting their actions,” says David Alexander, a high-profile Scottish agent and joint managing director of nationwide platform apropos.

“Evictions have become a major issue for some landlords who find themselves unsupported by government and forced into a corner by emergency legislation restricting their actions.”

He says that agents and landlords need to establish a ‘strong dialogue’ to see if negotiation on payments is possible and that renters are generally amenable to this approach.

Alexander suggests that the regulatory system in Scotland, which is more supportive of tenants, has encouraged landlords and agents north of the border to create closer relationships with renters, communicating more effectively.

“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,” he continues.

“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.”

He concludes that the Scottish system has made all parties more understanding and that for this reason, the Scottish market has been more able to adapt to the extraordinary circumstances caused by the pandemic.

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