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BTL landlords in England look to avoid ‘confrontation’

Buy-to-let landlords in England could learn a thing or two from the Scottish market as the eviction deadline approaches, according to apropos. 

The property management firm says it has been contacted by a number of landlords in England seeking advice on how to deal with tenants over the issue of eviction during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Scottish market is different in its treatment of tenants and issues such as evictions that are equivalent to section 21 in England and Wales are already illegal in Scotland and tenants have much greater security of tenure. 

Consequently, most landlords and agents have had to develop a more conciliatory and mutually beneficial means of working with tenants which has proved particularly effective during the pandemic.

David Alexander, joint managing director of apropos, said: “Over the last few weeks I have been contacted by many landlords in England seeking advice on how to deal with their tenants. In particular 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.”

“However, many have found that as they have not established close 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 continued: “The regulatory situation has been very different for some time in Scotland compared with the rest of the UK with legislation much more supportive of tenants. This has encouraged landlords and agents to create closer relationships with their tenants and develop more effective communication strategies so that everyone involved understands what is happening, what the processes are, and can generate workable solutions to difficult circumstances.”

“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.”

He added: “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.”

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    Rents went up by about 33% as soon as the new loony SNP legislation came into force in December 2017. Many fewer long-term homes are available as many became Airbnb. Landlords can usually pick and choose as many tenants chase each property. The new legislation has not helped the typical decent tenants but has allowed landlords to avoid the dross - hence fewer problems - but nothing to do with landlords using velvet gloves.

    Incidentally rent arrears is still a valid reason for eviction in Scotland and with no "no fault" evictions, landlords are alert to finding out why tenants are looking for accommodation with landlord references and solvent guarantors typically required.

  • Ruan Gildchirst

    When is England going to announce the same as Wales and Scotland with loan to tenants to pay back all Covid rent areas?

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