Lettings News

Scotland should be the Model for Lettings across the UK, Agent Believes

Rose Jinks - February 1, 2019

Scotland should be used as a model for lettings across the rest of the UK, according to a letting agent based north of the border.

DJ Alexander Ltd, one of the largest family-run property management businesses in Scotland, believes that the Government’s upcoming ban on lettings fees is good for business, and will strengthen the relationships between landlords and tenants.

The firm insists that charging tenants administration fees is both unnecessary and bad for business.

DJ Alexander Ltd, headed up by brothers David and John Alexander, argues that the lettings experience in the Scottish private rental sector should be the model for the rest of the UK.

The regulations included in the Tenant Fees Bill in England and Wales have been in place in Scotland since 2012. Additionally, Section 21 eviction notices no longer exist north of the border, while the Scottish Government recently introduced much greater security for private tenants.

Scotland should be the Model for Lettings across the UK, Agent Believes

David Alexander, the Joint Managing Director of Apropos by DJ Alexander Ltd, says: “In many ways, Scotland has led the way in improving the rights of tenants, and changing the relationship between landlord and tenant. Too often, this relationship has been confrontational and divisive, with each side pitted against the other. Rather than resolve any disputes or problems, the attitudes and the regulations seem to be established to dispose of any complaint by a tenant, rather than address it.

“The Tenants Fees Bill simply rights a flawed piece of legislation that allowed unwarranted and unfair charges to develop under the camouflage of administration expenses, often with little or no explanation of what these were for or why they were being applied. With many letting agents operating a business model where such charges account for a quarter to a third of income, it is clear that they were not motivated to end these charges, reduce their levels, or to have them examined in too much detail.”

John Alexander believes that the ban on fees will result in higher charges for landlords, which will concern many investors.

He explains what happened in Scotland: “When these charges were ended in 2012, and they were never as substantial a part of the Scottish market as they have been in England and Wales, there were doom-mongers who predicted the end of the lettings market. But this did not happen; the market adapted, landlords were charged more, but the best agents and the best landlords adapted and realised that this was fairer for the tenant, and, in the long-term, created a better relationship between the two.

“Equally, the ending of the no faults ground for eviction notices and introducing much greater security of tenure for tenants was feared by some in the property market as a sign of them losing control. On the contrary, it gives agents, landlords and tenants the opportunity to develop a relationship built on trust, on fairness and on developing a long-term relationship to their mutual benefit.”

Do you agree that Scotland’s lettings model would work across the rest of the UK?