An estate agency north of the border is calling for greater protection for renters facing financial difficulties.
During the current coronavirus crisis buy-to-let landlords cannot evict tenants in Scotland for up to six months in most cases, but this is not sufficient to protect renters facing financial hardship due to the pandemic, according to Portolio.
The emergency law passed by the Scottish government, which requires landlords to give at least six months’ notice to regain possession of a property, also temporarily makes all grounds for eviction in the private rented sector discretionary.
This means that even if the Tribunal agrees that the ground exists, it still has to decide whether it is reasonable to issue an eviction order.
This change ensures that the Tribunal will be able to use discretion and take into account all factors relating to the impact of coronavirus on both the landlord and tenant, before deciding whether to issue an eviction order or not.
However, Portolio argues that the new law in its existing form is not enough to protect tenants facing financial hardship.
Chris Wood, Portolio’s managing director, said: “When you look at the sectors in which a lot of renters work – such as tourism, hospitality or retail – they may be the ones hardest hit by the economic fallout of the pandemic.
“Younger people, who are also more likely to rent their homes, have also already been identified as those who stand to lose out most from the situation.
“While there are hopes that these businesses will strengthen again as we move through 2021, it would seem to us that extending the current legislation to cover off this period would be the right thing to do – giving a level of security to those already facing uncertainty.”
Given that Portolio specialise in selling properties with tenants in situ, it is clear that they have a vested interest in calling for the tenancy notice period to be extended.
Ross MacDonald, Portolio’s sales director, said: “While our business model of selling with tenants in situ has advantages in the current climate – meaning that deals can be completed without the need for tenants to first leave their homes – our position is not simply about the here and now.
“We believe that the entire rented property sector will benefit if as much support as possible exists to reduce the possibility that people who may have already lost their job may also lose their home – giving everyone valuable time as the economy recovers. It’s in no-one’s interests for homes to sit empty in the longer term.
“This would hopefully avoid any social issues which can stem from evictions or people being forced to give up their homes too.
“Anyone having difficulties in meeting their rental payments should look as soon as possible at what support is available to help them through the problems faced.”