Tomorrow sees the start of a three-day debate over the extension of the eviction ban in Scotland - and Propertymark appears to be squaring up for a fight.
In spring 2020 the Scottish Government introduced a temporary ban on the enforcement of eviction orders in the private and social rented sectors to protect renters during the health crisis - but whilst other UK nations are lifting the ban, Scotland may this week extend its ban.
On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week there is a Scottish Parliament debate which could see the extension of the Emergency Coronavirus Laws by at least another six months, something which experts at Propertymark are warning against.
Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery, John Swinney, says the measures are under close consideration.
Daryl Mcintosh, Propertymark’s policy expert based in Scotland, comments: “There isn’t enough data to support a policy decision that will continue to curtail landlords’ ability to lawfully recover possession of their properties when all other options have been exhausted.
“Propertymark and our members are committed to working to higher standards than the law requires. Eviction is always the last resort and is only considered once all options have been explored to help clear rent arrears and keep tenants in their homes.
“Our members want to work with tenants, and it is not constructive to assume the default position will be for agents and landlords to want to evict. We’ve been engaging with our letting agent members throughout the pandemic and what they’re telling us doesn’t support this logic.”
The trade body says that to compound matters, the extension of notice periods landlords must give tenants is becoming a difficulty too.
A statement from Propertymark says: “By the time notices expire and evictions can take place, debts levels are crippling. Many landlords who themselves have been personally affected by the pandemic are already in the position where selling properties is their only viable option and extending the bill raises concerns that many landlords could exit the market out of frustration that when arrears become unsustainable and beyond resolution, their financial hardship is not being recognised.”
Propertymark has launched a campaign against extending the measures, and wants property professionals to write to their MSPs.
It has created a template letter available via the ARLA Propertymark website.