Publication - Minutes

Private Rented Sector Resilience Group minutes: 6 July 2020

Published: 8 Sep 2020
Date of meeting: 6 Jul 2020
Date of next meeting: 20 Jul 2020

Minutes of a meeting of the Private Rented Sector Resilience Group, held on 6 July 2020.

Published:
8 Sep 2020
Private Rented Sector Resilience Group minutes: 6 July 2020

Attendees and apologies

In attendance:

  • Alice Tooms-Moore, Shelter Scotland
  • Colin McRae, Dundee City Council
  • Debbie King, Shelter Scotland
  • Duncan Thomson, Glasgow City Council
  • Emma Anderson, North Ayrshire Council
  • John Blackwood, Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) - Chair
  • Katrina Reid, Public Health Scotland
  • Nina Ballantyne, Citizen Advice Scotland (CAS)
  • Bob Drummond-Murray, SG
  • Denise Buchanan, SG
  • Katie Chan, SG
  • Mandy Brown (secretariat)
  • Mark Cooper, SG
  • Paul McGillivray, SG
  • Scott Boyd, SG
  • Yvette Sheppard, SG

Guests to discuss empty homes:

  • Andy Moseley, Shelter
  • Shaheena Din, Shelter

Apologies:

  • Katey Tabner, COSLA
  • Tony Cain, ALACHO
  • Gabrielle Hayes, Dundee City Council
  • Aoife Deery, Citizen Advice Scotland (CAS)
  • Daryl McIntosh, Propertymark
  • Lisa Mallon, City of Edinburgh Council
  • Simon Roberts, SG
  • Catriona McKean, SG
  • Charlotte McHaffie, SG
  • Amanda Callaghan, SG
  • Yvonne Gavan, SG

Items and actions

1. Welcome from the Chair and introductions

John opened the meeting and welcomed participants.

2. Note of previous meeting and action log

Amendment to update on action 12 from last meeting, has now been updated to read: March show that new applications are down 15%.  Renewals holding up slightly.  April and May show new applications are down 50+%.

Action 44: Update the action log so all the actions currently ongoing are together and all the completed actions are filed

Action log updates:

Action 9:  Hearing of advice services in Aberdeen supporting tenants who are facing evictions.  Small increase to the number of views on website.

Action 12: June figures are just under 30% less than the previous June so starting to pick up a little bit.

Action 13: PHS toolkit still being drafted. Bouncebacks – don’t have specific feedback yet, might be able to provide at a later date. 

Action 16: ongoing

Action 18: ongoing

Action 19: SG issued information to LAs that could extend licences.  One LA asked for clarification from SG.  Dundee Fire and Rescue are not inspecting properties.  Glasgow have extended HMO licences and have measures in place to commence inspections.  Dundee have just commenced inspections on void properties.  The decision to extend licences is for each LA but they should look at Glasgow for steer. 

Action 22: ongoing

Action 23: ongoing

Action 35: Feedback and conversations to explore some of the issues more have been helpful

Action 37: Shared cases studies.  Considering including couple of examples in the toolkit.

Action 38: part of discussion with comms. Letter to tenants still ongoing. Submission going to Minister this week.

Action 40: been superseded so starting again, should have this week/early next week

3. Ministerial meeting update

Nina provided an update on the previous meeting with the Minister on 24 June.  Key points included void properties and tenancy sustainment. Also discussed transparency and publishing notes.  Last week’s meeting was with the Resilience Group Chairs as the Minister was unable to attend.  Key points were the LA clarification through affordable housing supply, approving publication of the notes from the groups, the recovery workplan document and the HARSAG recommendation.

Action 45: to circulate note from Ministerial meeting with the group

Action 46: to add agenda item to discuss how the PRS group feeds into the three other groups

Action 47: Housing sector recovery workplan - to add to agenda to discuss at next meeting

4. Private Landlord Pre-Action Protocols update

Yvette thanked group for feedback on protocols and has also had a few 1-2-1 discussions, with a few more planned this week.  The redrafted set of protocols have been expanded to include certain sources of advice, such as debt management.  Need to consider changes to tenants circumstances to pay back arrears.  The guidance expands on pre-actions and hope to have first draft by end of month.

Yvette spoke to UK finance about mortgage lenders views.  The pre-actions were circulated to them and they have no real concerns.  They have provided some feedback and will come back to SG on stats.

Action 48: Yvette will circulate draft regulations once returned from Solicitors

Action 49: Yvette will send first draft of the guidance to group for feedback once available

5. Public Health Scotland Toolkit for tenants update

Katrina advised the group met last Thursday and have been working on the toolkit.  They are finalising the case studies.  CAS and Shelter are also seeking quotes/references to be included.  The group is ensuring the toolkit covers all the different types of PRS tenancies, including assured and short assured. 

The group discussed dissemination to tenants.  The preferred option would be postal.  Concerns were raised that the most vulnerable wouldn’t get the information if not connected digitally or with tenancy deposit scheme.  Submission is going to Minister this week and Scott will update the group once decided.  The group discussed the other options to share the toolkit, such as social media channels, tenancy deposit scheme, with LAs, registered letting agencies, Living Rent, etc.

Comms plan was discussed last week and will be circulated for comment. 

The group raised concerns about the wider issue of lack of transparency and data which is a barrier to effective communication in the PRS sector.  SG to consider methods of communication to PRS tenants for the future.

Action 50: PHS - Share the toolkit with the PRS group once available

Action 51: Scott - Circulate comms plan and update group on Ministerial decision

Action 52: SG - coordinate ideas for how to disseminate if not by post

Action 53: SG – to consider methods of communication with the PRS tenants for the future

6. Empty Homes update

Shelter Scotland provided an update on empty homes.  They have spoken to COSLA and had online meetings with Empty Homes Officers (EHOs).  There is scope to expand work of EHOs to liaise with owners of recent empty PRS properties, but local authorities need to have mechanisms to bring properties back into use. Also need to consider demand for a scheme and look to establish a benchmark of what is already in place as both of these vary between local authorities. 

The majority of long term empty homes (those empty for more than 6 months) are not ready to move into ASAP and may require considerable work to bring up to standard.  If looking at homes empty for less than 6 months, then this would be a shift in responsibility for EHOs as they currently work with owners of long term empty properties only.

Some EHOs are getting calls from PRS landlords and refer on to housing teams in LAs to take forward where property is suitable. SEHP advice service is also getting an uptake in calls from private landlords, but may die down as lockdown eases. 

Need to consider what LAs have in place to ensure mechanism for bringing property back into use.  Is a national approach required?  Demand varies across LAs.  Speak to Heads of Housing to see if need for it? 

Shelter advised the next steps is COSLA will write to Heads of Housing at local authorities with joint paper prepared by SEHP and COSLA.

NAC advised that their EHO’s are currently working to capacity on long term empty homes.

Action 54: Shelter will share the letter to the Heads of Housing

Action 55: Shelter will share paper with Katey on how to link up

7. Short-Term Lets update

Due to responding to COVID, work was put on hold however now starting to focus on this area.  The work is ongoing and an updated will be provided to the PRS group in due course.

Action 56: SG to provide timescales/milestones for the short term let regulations being introduced.

8. Discussion Focus:  Tenancy Sustainment

Landlords have concerns over arrears and Shelter are concerned about what it could lead to.  Shelter advised it is important to raise awareness as they have clients who are concerned about what the emergency powers are and there is a little bit of confusion.  They are advising that although prevents evictions in the meantime, still at risk of eviction further down the line.  Tenants are concerned about finances and when furlough ends.  The group discussed the importance of access to benefits. There are concerns about what happens when the notice period ends and the economy hasn’t recovered, particularly in retail and hospitality. 

Katrina suggested looking at the Economic Recovery Advisory Group plan to see if there is anything from that which might be useful. 

Emma advised from a rural perspective not seeing anything different, although certain areas/sectors more at risk. 

Action 57: PHS and Shelter will look at the Economic Recovery Advisory Group plan

Action 58: Debbie and Nina will draft a step by step plan on Tenancy Sustainment

Action 59: Emma will speak to homelessness colleagues and provide an update at next meeting

9. Publishing minutes of the group

Group are content for the notes from the PRS meetings to be published.

10. Date and Time of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Monday 20 July from 2pm until 3:30pm.