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Half of Tenants in Scotland Already Experiencing Payment Issues, says the Landlord’s Estate Agent



A staggering 50.5% of tenants in Scotland are already experiencing payment issues, and up to 40% of landlords may have to take a mortgage holiday, according to a survey carried out by  Edinburgh specialist estate agent, Portolio. 

The estate agent, founded in 2017 by Chris Wood and Ross Macdonald – and currently the only tenanted property sales specialist in Scotland – sent out a survey to their significant contact base of more than 1,000 Scottish landlords, as well as on social media, to get the findings. 

The survey contained a number of questions relating to COVID-19 and its effects on various aspects of owning, managing, buying and selling tenanted property. All participants were given the option to remain anonymous.

Speaking about what prompted them to undertake such a survey, co-founder Chris Wood (45) said: “As the Landlord’s Estate Agent, we felt that we were duty bound and in a great position to contribute to the welfare of the PRS (Private Rented Sector) by collecting as many insights as possible. 

“It also seemed to us that nobody else was asking the questions we wanted to know the answers to. If there was any info out there then it was anecdotal at best or more UK based – rather than Scotland.”

Another startling statistic from the survey found that almost a third of landlords would struggle to pay the mortgage on their buy-to-let if their tenants could not pay rent. This is cause for quite a high degree of concern should the coronavirus continue to have an impact on rental payments even after restrictions start to ease. 

Co-founder Ross Macdonald, (41) said: “We discovered that over half of tenants were already experiencing difficulties paying the full rental, and with two further rental payments due before lockdown restrictions are expected to be eased, this percentage is likely to rise. 

“Many landlords advised that should rental payments continue to be disrupted then they are likely to experience difficulties paying their buy-to-let mortgages. A worrying situation for both tenants and landlords.” 


Some positive results

The statistics weren’t all doom and gloom, however, with 92% of landlords surveyed stating they were happy with the way their letting agent has responded to COVID-19. 

Ross said: “The survey provided us with some extremely positive stories despite the situation everyone finds themselves in. It was great to hear about landlords and tenants working together to help each other during what is a very uncertain and stressful time. 

“It was also great to hear how proactive letting agents were at maintaining their service levels despite having to quickly adapt to their workforce operating from home.”

The survey had a total of 214 responses from landlords based all over Scotland, and helps us to get a fuller picture of the impact of COVID-19 on Scottish landlords and their tenants. 

Ross told us: “We were delighted with the response we had. We were also delighted with how open the anonymous respondents were with additional information they added to the survey questions. 

“This allowed us to form a much better understanding of the challenges currently facing landlords and tenants across the country.” 

Another positive was that most landlords hadn’t run into any problems instructing urgent repairs and getting safety certifications carried out during lockdown – with only 16.3% of landlords reporting an issue. 

As a landlord himself, Chris had been concerned for the welfare of tenants in Scotland during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

He said: “I’ve been heartened by the general caring approach of landlords and letting agents, and in turn the responsible behaviour of tenants. The Scottish PRS is a vital part of Scotland’s housing, and that’s only going to increase.”


Portolio’s next move

Portolio have previously described themselves as “the Obi-Wan Kenobi” of property investments, and pride themselves on the values of shared success between sellers and buyers of tenanted property – this also means that, at least most of the time, tenants get to stay in their homes

So, what’s next for Portolio? Well, the Landlord’s Estate Agent has already taken the essential safety steps, and is ready to start conducting viewings of properties they’re selling – with the help of masks, sanitiser and social distancing, that is!

Here’s what Chris had to say: 

“Lockdown definitely put us on the backfoot, but after that first week of simply absorbing the news, we resolved to work even harder in our efforts to speak to the property community at large. 

“This survey is part of that, but also we’ve also had almost daily property meet-ups (called ‘Property Pow Wows’) over Zoom, and by mid-May we will have had 20 of those – meaning we’ll have discussed the impacts of COVID-19 with over 60 property professionals, ranging from solicitors to property investors. 

“These have been extremely helpful to us AND to the people who attended – I think they have actually acted a bit like a therapy session as, coupled with a clear structure, they are fairly lighthearted. We aim to continue the PPWs and will evolve to have a live version that can be viewed by the audience on Facebook Live.

“Other than that, the period has helped us reflect on how we work and we’ll definitely be using more virtual viewing software and video meeting software in the future. In a difficult situation, having to travel less has been a big plus.” 

More images available via Google Drive (folder below), including visuals of the full statistics also published on Portolio’s blog.


PRESS OPPORTUNITIES: Chris Wood and Ross Macdonald will be available for photo and interview opportunities upon request. 

Contact Chris Wood: 07812164842, [email protected]
Contact Ross Macdonald: 07388361564, [email protected] 

NOTE: Portolio are also available for comment on all aspects of property, including the following subjects:

  1. The possibility of mortgage holidays jeopardising a property investor’s future mortgage application
  2. The efficiency and success of the letting agent’s work during COVID-19
  3. How COVID-19 forced increased efficiency in all aspects of property 
  4. Whether landlords will be more or less likely to sell in the second half of 2020
  5. Whether or not property investors be more or less active in the second half of 2020