Social housing

Policy actions  2 of 5

Improving housing standards

The Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS) was introduced in February 2004. It is the main way we measure housing quality in Scotland.

Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS)

It means social landlords must make sure their tenants' homes:

  • are energy efficient, safe and secure
  • not seriously damaged
  • have kitchens and bathrooms that are in good condition

We introduced a minimum housing standard in Scotland to try to make sure that no property ever falls below this level.

Some landlords may be prevented, by social or technical reasons, from completing improvements required by SHQS. For example, if tenants or owner-occupiers do not agree.

These exemptions are allowed under the SHQS guidance. The Scottish Housing Regulator is responsible for monitoring the performance of social landlords.

The current Covid-19 crisis might impact on social landlords’ efforts to comply with statutory and regulatory responsibilities relating to house condition. In light of this, the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning wrote to social landlords on 2 July 2020 setting out how best endeavours can be demonstrated.

Social housing and public sector landlords

We set a target for local authority landlords and registered social landlords to bring their housing stock up to SHQS standard by April 2015.

Since 2012, this target has been incorporated in the Scottish Social Housing Charter. Other public sector landlords, for example university accommodation and the Ministry of Defence, are exempt from meeting this target.

SHQS Guidance

Scottish Housing Quality Standard guidance was published in March 2011:

This technical guidance replaces the original (2004) guidance.

The energy efficiency elements of SHQS have been replaced by the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing (EESSH) which landlords should meet by 2020. The SHQS guidance has been updated to reflect this.

Monitoring progress against the standard

Progress is measured by a number of public bodies and in different ways:

The Scottish Social Housing Charter

The Scottish Social Housing Charter came into force in April 2012. It sets out the standards and outcomes that all social landlords should be aiming to achieve for their customers.

The Charter also covers what tenants and other customers can expect in terms of the:

  • quality and value for money of the services they receive
  • standard of their homes
  • opportunities for communication about, and participation in, the decisions that affect them

The Scottish Housing Regulator

The Scottish Housing Regulator also monitors the SHQS progress from statistical returns both nationally and for individual registered social landlords (RSLs).

This information is published for each RSL, and projects its SHQS compliance rate over time. The SHQS also publishes data on landlords.

In 2014, the regulator published an SHQS progress report. It covers a range of issues and was based on self-assessment information given by RSLs and local authority landlords. It showed that landlords expected that 2,408 houses would not meet the target, which is less than 0.4 per cent of all social houses.

Common Housing Quality Standard

Different housing quality standards apply to owner-occupied, private rented and social rented homes. Where there is a mixture of tenure types it can be difficult to organise repair and maintenance work in buildings.

We convened a Common Housing Quality Standard Forum which considered a number of topics including: essential fabric elements, safety elements and scope of a common standard. See the topics considered in this factsheet: Common Housing Quality Standard topic papers.

The forum informed the Energy efficiency and condition standards in private rented housing consultation.

The Tenement Condition Workplan sets out a timetable for actions during 2020 to meet the commitment set out in paragraphs 7 and 8 of the response to the Parliamentary Working Group on tenement maintenance

We published a paper setting out the recommendations of local authority housing and environmental health officers on changes to the tolerable standard. These recommendations will inform a public consultation which we will publish later this year.

Tenement repairs

A majority of owners in a tenement can make a binding decision to carry out maintenance and repairs. Local authorities can pay a 'missing share' on behalf of owners who are unable or unwilling to comply with the majority decision. The local authority can recover its costs and use a repayment charge, a kind of security against the property.

Scottish Ministers can also regulate to allow registered social landlords a similar discretionary power to pay and recover 'missing shares'. Before Ministers can make regulations, they must consult bodies representing location authorities and registered social landlords, among others.

The Scottish Government has published the results of a such a consultation. Having considered responses to it, the Scottish Government intends to bring forward regulations in 2018 to introduce a discretionary power for registered social landlords to recover a missing share through a repayment charge.

Improving standards on Gypsy/Traveller sites

In 2015 we published guidance on minimum site standards for Gypsy/Traveller sites which covers new and core rights and responsibilities for those renting pitches on council and one RSL-owned site.

The minimum standards are now part of the The Scottish Social Housing Charter. The Scottish Housing Regulator will monitor, assess and report on landlords’ achievement of, and ongoing compliance with, the minimum site standards.

Related information

Back to top