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15 December 2020
This transcript is taken from a Talk Radio broadcast interview with Ian Collins on Tuesday 15th December.
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, this question will be the subject of huge headlines over the next year.
Let's speak on this very point to Jamie Waller. Jamie is the founder and chairman of Just – an organisation that promotes the fair treatment of debtors.
Jamie good afternoon to you:
Jamie Waller: Good afternoon Ian.
IC: Good to have you with us. This is a tricky situation and its likely to get trickier over the coming year. Is that reasonable?
JW: Yes. I don't think we're at the start of it to be honest with you and I think the beginning of Q2 next year will be the real start.
IC: What are we looking at here then because the rule seems to have changed particularly in this one area. In terms of being a debtor, there could be all manner of reasons behind it, but just on the issue of housing, there's been respite for tenants. There's been a recognition of the current unprecedented circumstances.
That may well change again, but we found ourselves it seems talking to a variety of people Jamie that over the course of the last half year or so, there are an increasing number of landlords that haven't been paid a bean and there's also a lot of tenants that would quite like to pay the money, but they haven't got the ability to do so.
So, guys like yourself are in the middle of all of this somewhere along the line because you've got to somehow try and get the money back if you can for the landlord, but at the same time understanding the circumstances of the tenant
JW: Yes, it's difficult. We always say at Just that “everybody has the right to be paid what they are owed but not at any cost” and the reality upon us is that “not at any cost” is more real than ever right now.
While the extended government furlough scheme and other support programmes are helping, actually if you really dig deep into it while they're doing is pushing a lot of the problem down the road. That is obviously okay when you've got a crisis with a time limit on it but I think we all accept that, this crisis doesn't have a have an end date at the moment.
IC: Yes. So, what are the options then if for example a landlord has gone to court, they've received a court order to evict someone and that process as you know, Jamie is quite lengthy and is it now even lengthier than it previously was, what happens then because councils are clearly in a difficult situation and tenants are in a difficult situation. What is the answer?
JW: Well, the government have got to support and landlords. Gone are the days where we all believed that anybody that owns a property and becomes a landlord is a “Fat Cat”.
The landlord has a business to operate just like the local shop or the local restaurants and the government needs to be supplying the landlord with support because they're taking away their ability to charge rent.
IC: And what are you guys doing at Just, Jamie, as an organisation promotes the fair treatment of debtors.
I know you feel incredibly strongly about this we've spoken about it before. I’m sure some would say, how fair can you be if you have to take control of goods or ensure somebody is evicted. What is the process here?
JW: At Just, we truly believe that “everybody has the right to be paid what they are owed” that is key, but it is the “but not at any cost” which is also important.
A good friend of mine always uses the phrase: “It's about it's about getting people out of debt rather than debt out of people” and I know that for some people these might sound like strapline, but they're truly not because if you make sure that people live by that then you can really deliver a service that is much more balanced.
What we need to do is ensure that those that can't pay are assisted through the process. But those that won't pay are made to pay because what we shouldn't ignore Ian and it is really relevant right now is that everybody has the ability to use Covid-19 as an excuse.
I said this to my wife the other day and she said no don't be silly. Jamie people won't do that, and I said hang on a second how many times have you heard one of your friends use Covid as an excuse for not cancelling your restaurant booking or not turning up at the hairdresser?
It's just one of those things that society will use, and we've heard it in greater cases where some of the big retail chains you have claimed business rates relief and various other things when they haven't actually been affected so it's how do you how do you work through the mess of those that genuinely are affected and need assistance compared to those that are using it as an excuse because banking the money right now is good for them.
IC: Jamie, it's a good point to finish on. Thank you, Jamie Waller founder and chairman of Just an organisation that promotes the fair treatment of debtors.
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