Part of the controversial Spicerhaart empire want the government to guarantee that some landlords receive 80 per cent of their usual rent income throughout the Coronavirus crisis.
Spicerhaart hit the headlines 10 days ago when there was a high number of lay-offs and permanent branch closures announced at short notice, minutes before the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a bail-out scheme that other agencies have used to keep staff on board.
The way the redundancies were handled - at least one senior negotiator says she was fired at 5.45pm on a Friday with no assurance she would be paid - was described by some in the industry as “inhumane” and generated national newspaper publicity.
Now Spicerhaart’s corporate sales division says it wants the government to step in to help small-scale landlords.
Managing director Mark Pilling says: “While a blanket freeze on all possessions activity will protect tenants in the short term, it is bound to lead to an accumulation of arrears that will be all the harder to deal with once the freeze is lifted.
“If there seem to be no consequences to non-payment, some struggling tenants will naturally prioritise other bills, and will be more likely to ignore attempts to communicate with them to manage the situation.
“A three-month ban on possessions activity will result in even longer spells without rental income – possibly six months or more of state-enforced void periods.
“Payment holidays on buy-to-let mortgages will be of limited help to landlords who in many cases rely on income from a small number of properties. If one or more of these is not generating an income for an extended period, it could cause families real financial difficulty.
“It seems only fair that [rental income] should be subject to the same government guarantees as other income affected by the restrictions currently in place.”