Don’t evict anyone during virus crisis says leading lettings expert

A senior lettings expert with almost four decades experience says evictions should not be considered during the virus crisis, irrespective of the ban ending this month.

David Alexander helped set up DJ Alexander in 1982, and it describes itself as one of the largest family-run property management companies in the UK.

Now he says that as long as the continued impact of the pandemic remains, then action on evictions should not be considered.

While the longevity of the COVID-19 pandemic is uncertain, with unemployment potentially about to rise, and the future of the economy up in the air, now is not the time to disrupt tenants’ lives with the prospect of evictions he insists.

Alexander, now also a joint managing director of PropTech platform apropos, says: “It is essential that agents and landlords work closely with tenants to develop and maintain a strong relationship to produce the best outcome for all involved. Excellent communication is essential in ensuring that everyone understands the current circumstances and is prepared to liaise and negotiate to find solutions which are appropriate for each individual situation.

“In March, our firm wrote to all of our tenants asking them if they were facing any issues or problems due to the pandemic and encouraging them to get in touch as soon as possible to see how we could resolve these issues. This ensured that tenants felt comfortable about communicating and clear that their concerns would be listened to with a sympathetic ear.”

He says that as a result of the contact, his firm is currently working with 500 tenants and landlords with the consequence being a mix of reduced rents, agreed payment plans and, in some cases, cancelled rents altogether.

“Working out what solution is best for each individual tenant and landlord is the key to good relations in the private rented sector. These are temporary solutions for unusual times and we would, when the situation improves, always work with landlords and tenants to maintain regular payments to avoid arrears becoming an issue” he maintains.

“The best landlords understand it is more important, at this time, to ensure that tenants are not worrying about rent when so many other aspects of their lives may be under threat. Obviously, many landlords have major issues of their own and it is important to respect these. but developing long term, mutually beneficial relationships is crucial and requires understanding, communication, and trust.”

He says that in the past there’s been a tendency to portray the landlord and tenant relationship as an ‘us and them’ situation but in reality landlords “must understand that their property is not just giving them with an income but is providing a home and a roof over someone’s head who requires respect and understanding.”

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