Malcolm Cannon, the chief executive of lettings agency Braemore, and a non executive director of the The Property Ombudsman service (TPO)* Scotland, is calling on the Scottish government at Holyrood not to harm the private rented sector (PRS) by “moving down an anti-landlord path”, as it appears to be doing with proposed new legislation.
Writing in his column in the Edinburgh News, Mr Cannon says “it is a popular myth that all landlords are unsympathetic and money-grabbing; and that tenants are a browbeaten community living in less than homely properties. But that is just what it is – a myth”.
Stating that he is not trying to excuse the behaviour of some bad landlords or deny that some tenants find themselves in unacceptable situations, but says he wants to dispel the popular myth about landlords and redress the balance.
“In Edinburgh, the reality is that the vast majority of landlords are ordinary working professionals or retirees, who have chosen to invest savings in property.
“For many of these individuals, putting their money into bricks and mortar was the only option after the failure of the banks and during an era of low interest rates. For them too, their properties are an investment that needs looking after for the long term. These are not bad people.
“The facts, highlighted in a number of independent surveys, also show that tenants are largely content. The Lettingweb report found that 86 per cent of tenants in Scotland surveyed have never received a request for a rent increase during their lease and 90 per cent never experienced a rent rise that was deemed unreasonable.”
Despite this, says Mr Cannon, the Scottish Government is moving down an anti-landlord path. Following a consultation on the PRS the government’s proposals now call for the removal of the “no fault” eviction clause (section 21 equivalent in England and Wales) which would remove the landlord’s right to terminate a tenancy at the end of the agreed lease period, even after sufficient notice is given.
They government’s proposals also include area-based rent controls, which most property experts believe will lead to landlords leaving the sector and a curtailing of new investment in much needed rental housing.
In justifying the increasing need for rented housing Mr Cannon goes on to say:
“Today’s working environment demands mobility. Renting offers people flexibility. Families often want to be near their chosen schools. Renting offers that choice. Many individuals want a city centre lifestyle in an aspirational home. Renting provides that option. And for the many who can’t afford to buy, renting is essential.
“To raise standards, the sector has been working closely with the government and other agencies to introduce more robust redress when things go wrong. We have also argued for better landlord and lettings agency registration along with powers to penalise bad practice. These have to be encouraged. Yet so far, swayed by the myths, the Government persists with its sledgehammer to crack a nut”.
While the Scottish Government says it is “working to encourage a thriving private rented sector, which provides good quality and well managed accommodation, and in which both landlords and tenants understand their rights and responsibilities”, it is planning to introduce a raft of new legislation which landlord bodies deem to be hugely anti-landlord.
The SLA has submitted a petition to the Scottish Government in response to its consultation on a “New Tenancy for the Private Rented Sector”, which closed on the 10th of May.
John Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords, has said:
“Investment in the private rented sector will play a major part in tackling the systemic housing shortage in Scotland, along with the need to increase the availability of social housing and the construction of more privately owned homes.
“However, if the Scottish Government follows through on proposals to bring in rent controls and remove a landlord’s right to terminate a tenancy at the end of the agreed lease period, SAL is in no doubt that the required investment to deliver more homes for private rent will dry up.”
“Whilst we agree that some changes to the current regime are necessary, we would urge the Scottish Government to consider the wider implications of what is being proposed.”
A New Tenancy for the Private Rented Sector
* The Property Ombudsman (TPO) came into being on 1 May 2009. Formerly, the Ombudsman for Estate Agents (OEA), the name change was made to reflect the broader jurisdiction in relation to Complaints, e.g. Sales, lettings, commercial and overseas.
The Ombudsman for Estate Agents (OEA) Scheme was established on 1 January 1998. The Scheme is open to all those firms of estate agents with a principal, director or partner who is a member of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) or Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS); to all corporate estate agents, defined as those who are subsidiaries of a bank, building society or insurance company, or are themselves quoted on the Stock Exchange and to other estate agents who are sponsored and seconded by existing member agents. From June 2006, the OEA extended its services to Lettings and Property Management agents.
With effect from 1 October 2008, all estate agents are required to register with an Estate Agents Redress Scheme that has been approved by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and which investigates complaints against estate agents. The TPO is one of the schemes approved by the OFT.
With effect from 1 October 2014 it is a legal requirement for lettings agents and property managers in England to join 1 of 3 government approved redress schemes, of which TPO is one.
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TPO Director calls for Caution on Scottish PRS Changes – http://t.co/QMLfL3s97r
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