A lettings agency chief in Scotland says the upcoming ban on agents levying fees on tenants - to be introduced in England next week and Wales later this year - will not be as catastrophic as some forecast.
David Alexander - joint managing director of property management company Apropos by DJ Alexander - says Scotland is an example of how to deal with the changes.
Alexander insists Scotland is “far ahead” of the rest of the UK in improving the status and security of tenants, and he believes it is the existing Scottish model which is now being replicated and implemented in these legislative changes.
“The Tenants Fees Bill is aimed at clearing up ambiguous and vague administrative charges and, while some of these were legitimate, many agents used them as a source of income sometimes accounting for 30 per cent of annual revenue” says Alexander.
He says the storm of complaints from agents and landlords claiming they are being financially squeezed “fails to acknowledge or understand that these regulations were introduced in Scotland in 2012 without the world collapsing and without any obvious harm to the private rented sector.”
Alexander says the ban in Scotland has been only one part of a more thorough-going reform of the sector north of the border.
He insists there has been a determined effort over recent years to improve the relationship between landlord and tenant through changes in the security of tenure, the length of leases, and reduce the confrontational element in the landlord and tenant relationship which the original 1988 Housing Act effectively promoted.
“Scotland has also led the way in ending no fault evictions, in abolishing short term tenancy agreements of six months and introducing indefinite tenancies” according to Alexander.
He now says the task is to change the mindset of so many landlords and agents “who have often viewed the tenant as simply a cash cow.”
He concludes: “These legislative changes should be regarded as an opportunity to create a better, fairer, and more equitable private rented sector which produces a mutually beneficial system for all concerned. June 1 [when the fees ban comes into force in England] is merely the start of change, and Scotland is continuing to lead the way and provided a sound model for the operation of the private rental sector in the future.”