Evictions should be ‘last thing on anyone’s mind’ in current climate

A 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.

Evictions should be ‘last thing on anyone’s mind’ in current climate

David Alexander

While the longevity of the COVID-19 pandemic is uncertain, with unemployment potentially about to rise, and the future of the economy up in the air, David Alexander, joint managing director of apropos, said now is not the time to disrupt tenants’ lives with the prospect of evictions.

The intervention comes amid suggestions that the Scottish Government may prolong the extended notice periods set down in the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 for a further six months.

Mr Alexander said: “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.”

Mr Alexander added: “We are currently working with approximately 500 tenants and landlords have reduced rents, agreed payment plans and, in some cases, cancelled rents altogether. Working out what solution is best for each individual tenant and landlord is the key to good relations in the private rented sector. These are temporary solutions for unusual times and we would, when the situation improves, always work with landlords and tenants to maintain regular payments to avoid arrears becoming an issue.

“The best landlords understand that it is more important, at this time, to ensure that your tenants are not worrying about rent when so many other aspects of their lives may be under threat. Obviously, many landlords have major issues of their own at the moment, and it is important to respect these but developing long term, mutually beneficial relationships is crucial and requires understanding, communication, and trust.

“We may not yet have been through the worst of this situation. When the furlough scheme ends it is highly likely that many more people may lose their jobs and get into difficulties with their rents. Landlords and agents must, therefore, take the long view on this and establish sensible repayment periods which work for all concerned.

“There have been many misconceptions and assumptions over the last few months regarding landlords who have received a payment holiday on their mortgage and that because of this they should not be charging rent. This assumes that the rent is required only to cover the mortgage payments when it is often part of the landlords’ income as well. Equally not all landlords have mortgages, and many are solely reliant on their rental income to live.”

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 with 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.”

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