Consultation on Affordable Rented Housing: Analysis of Consultation Responses

Analysis of consultation responses to a Scottish Government consultation "Affordable Rented Housing: Creating flexibility for landlords and better outcomes for communities". The report summarises the key themses and highlights the range of views expressed.

6 Proposal 5: Qualifying Period

Proposal 5: Create a qualifying period before anyone can succeed to the tenancy

6.1 Currently, the law requires only a partner to have been living in the property for at least six months before they have the right to succeed to the tenancy. For all other qualifying persons (including husband, wife, or civil partner) there is no qualifying period. The Scottish Government's early phase of consultation indicated that in some cases, people have succeeded to the tenancy after staying at the property for just a few days or weeks before the tenant's death. Therefore, housing professionals have asked the Scottish Government to look at this issue and the following proposal has been developed:

(Source: Consultation Document Page 18)

The Scottish Government invites views on:

  • whether we should introduce a length of time that any qualifying person must have lived at the property before they have the right to succeed

6.2 An analysis of the responses provided to proposal 5 is set out below.

Views on the Proposal (Q19)

6.3 The majority of respondents who answered this question (63%) felt that there should be a qualifying period before succession to a tenancy, whilst 17% of respondents were against the proposals and 20% were unsure.

Proposal 5 - Do you think there should be a qualifying period before succession to a tenancy?
Respondent Source Yes No Not sure
Number % Number % Number %
Written (n=203) 148 73 26 13 29 14
Events/Facebook (n=141) 69 49 32 23 40 28
Total (n=344) 217 63 58 17 69 20

6.4 The table below breaks down the 203 responses to this question via written questionnaires by respondent type.

Proposal 5 - Do you think there should be a qualifying period before succession to a tenancy?
Respondent Source Yes No Not sure
Number % Number % Number %
Individuals (n=31) 20 65 5 16 6 19
Landlord Representative Groups (n=4) 4 100 0 0 0 0
Landlords (n=80) 71 89 5 6 4 5
Other Groups (n=25) 16 64 7 28 2 8
Tenants Groups (n=63) 37 59 9 14 17 27
Total (n=203) 148 73 26 13 29 14

6.5 The vast majority of landlords and landlord representative groups who answered this question were in favour of having a qualifying period before succession to a tenancy. The proportion of tenants, other groups and individuals who felt that there should be a qualifying period was significantly lower than for landlords and landlord representative groups, although the majority were still in favour from all three of these groups.

Quantitative Response - who the qualifying period should apply to (Q20)

6.6 Respondents were asked about which groups they think the qualifying period should apply to as set out in the table below.

Question 20 - Who do you think that the qualifying period should apply to?
Category Yes No
Number % Number %
Husband, wife, civil partner or joint tenant (n=140) 60 43 80 57
Partner (n=139) 105 76 34 24
Family member 16 or over living at the property (n=141) 124 88 17 12
A carer who lives in the property (n=143) 116 81 27 19
All of the above (n=144) 83 58 61 42

6.7 There is widespread support for the implementation of a qualifying period and 58% of respondents felt that it should apply to all categories listed in the table below. There was least support for applying the proposals to a husband, wife, civil partner or joint tenant given that other legal precedents and protections would apply in these circumstances.

Length of Period (Q21)

6.8 The consultation asked how long respondents felt that this qualifying period should be. The responses were as follows, with the percentages referring to the proportion of the 219 completed questionnaires:

  • 6 months (about 36% of respondents);
  • Between 6-12 months (about 27% of respondents);
  • Dependent on individual circumstances (about 15% of respondents). Many respondents suggested that the qualifying period should vary in accordance with an individual's living situation and should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. This appears to be particularly prominent with regards to young people with many suggesting that a longer qualifying period may be needed in order to ensure that they are able to live independently;
  • At the discretion of the landlord (around 6% of respondents). Similar to the above response, many felt that the length of a given qualifying period should depend on the circumstances of the individual, but crucially, should be at the discretion of the landlord.
  • Over a year (around 5% of respondents);
  • Less than 6 months (around 4% of respondents).

6.9 Around 12% of respondents did not provide an answer, 4% did not know, and 6% felt that there should not be a qualifying period, particularly where an occupant had been registered as living there previously.

Benefits (Q22)

6.10 The consultation asked what the subsequent benefits of the proposal are. A number of advantages were suggested, largely based around three themes. These are as follows, with the percentages referring to the proportion of the 237 written responses:

  • Prevention of abuse of the system (about 46% of respondents). Many respondents mentioned the issue of "queue-jumping" - i.e. the practice of family members moving into a tenant's home shortly before the death of the family member and claiming it as their principle residence. This proposal is seen as a way of preventing this issue and would stop the abuse of succession rights;
  • Security for carers/family members (about 9% of the respondents). Respondents suggested that for those family members and carers who are responsible for an ill/elderly family member (who passes away), the actions in the proposal could provide security of tenure - lessening the risk of losing their home at what is likely to be an extremely stressful time;
  • Ability to highlight tenant suitability (about 6% of respondents). A qualifying period would provide an opportunity for tenants to demonstrate that they are capable of undertaking a tenancy (paying bills etc) and would also "flag-up" any potential problem tenants before they commit to a full tenancy agreement.

6.11 One other benefit was suggested by a much smaller number of respondents. This involved providing clear guidelines regarding qualification periods, helping to ensure consistency across the sector and better management of housing stock (i.e. landlords would have a period of time to assess the true needs of a tenant). About 24% of respondents did not provide an answer, 5% did not know and around 5% felt that there were no obvious benefits.

Problems (Q23)

6.12 A series of potential problems were highlighted, based largely around four concerns. These are as follows, with the percentages referring to the proportion of the 237 written responses:

  • Fails to take individual circumstances into account (suggested by about 21% of the respondents). A significant proportion of respondents felt that there was a distinct lack of flexibility, and that individual circumstances do not appear to be taken into consideration; for example, concerns about what would happen to a full-time, live-in carer after the death of their patient;
  • Does not suggest how proof of residency can be confirmed (about 11% of respondents). Respondents were concerned with the proposal's lack of clarity as to how tenants' time at a given residence can be proven. Two distinct issues arise from this concern - primarily, that the system could be open to abuse, and conversely, that so-called "good" tenants may actually have problems proving their residency;
  • Could lead to poor management of housing stock (about 11% of respondents). Some respondents felt that the proposal actually does little to tackle the issues of housing stock-mismanagement and under-occupancy. Some felt that it may exacerbate the problem as tenants would be able to qualify for a property (after the qualifying period) irrespective of whether the size/type of property was appropriate to their needs;
  • Leads to social insecurity for tenants/potential homelessness (about 11% of respondents). Many respondents felt that this proposal has the potential to create a situation of homelessness immediately following the death of a tenant.

6.13 One of the predominant "other" responses suggested was the lack of clarity relating to the proposal, particularly with regards to the definition of key terms (such as "principle home"), and how the proposal might relate to joint tenancies. Other concerns suggested were the proposal's consistency with tenants' legal rights.

6.14 About 25% of respondents did not provide an answer, 8% did not know of potential problems and about 13% did not feel that it would cause any problems.

Actions to overcome problems (Q24)

6.15 The consultation asked about what could be done to overcome the aforementioned problems. Three key actions were suggested. These are as follows, with the percentages referring to the proportion of the 237 written responses:

  • Grant greater flexibility/discretion for landlords (about 17% of the respondents). It was felt, in particular by landlords themselves, that landlords should have the flexibility and discretion to take individual circumstances into account when considering issues of succession;
  • Provide greater clarity for both landlords and tenants (about 15% of the respondents). Respondents felt that there should be clear guidance to ensure that both landlords and tenants (and successors) have a clear understanding of the timescales and evidential requirements;
  • Improved/stricter checks (about 8% of respondents). A number of respondents felt that greater checks should be in place both during the application process for the tenancy, as well as during the qualifying period. This included visitation checks from housing officers.

6.16 Other responses included expanding available funding through housing hubs to enable a wider approach to housing options; rejecting the proposal and reconsidering the requirements of succession; and encouraging joint tenancies where appropriate. Approximately 37% of respondents did not provide an answer, 10% were unsure as to what actions should be taken and 2% felt that there were no actions.


Email: Alix Rosenberg

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