Part 4 – Impact Assessment
Costs and other resources
Part 4 of the consultation paper noted that a Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment was prepared prior to the introduction of the original Code and that the Scottish Government is now looking to determine the impact of the proposals to revise the Code.
Question 14a: Are there any proposals in this consultation which have any financial, regulatory or resource implications for you and/or your business (if applicable)?
As illustrated in Figure 15 below, 53% of respondents thought that there are proposals in the consultation which have a financial, regulatory or resource implications for themselves or their business, while 18% thought there are not.
Figure 15: Responses to Question 14a. Also see Table 16 (Annex 2: Quantitative Analysis).
Comments tended to focus on the financial and resource implications, often seeing these two as being closely connected.
Those who thought the proposals would have implications sometimes commented that any changes to the Code of Conduct are likely to have an impact including having financial and other resource impacts. These were often associated with increased administrative costs. It was also suggested that there would be a training requirement for key staff on any changes to the Code and a resource requirement associated with reviewing all relevant policies and procedures.
The specific proposal most-frequently seen as having a resource implication was the requirement to issue an annual Written Statement of Services. One respondent noted that an RSL has estimated the cost as being £10 per owner for each WSS sent out. There was a concern that the additional administrative cost would have to be passed on to owners and it was suggested that this is something that factors, and RSLs in particular, would be keen to avoid. Alternative approaches suggested was that the WSS should not be re-issued unless significant changes have been made to it during the year or that any requirements could be fulfilled by a website update and notification on the next invoice.
Other comments focused on the development of the WSS and included that having a bespoke WSS per property showing specific authority to act and level of delegated authority would be resource intensive and unnecessary. It was also suggested that time and cost would be involved in having a solicitor check the re-drafted WSS. Having a WSS available on their website was seen as having IT resource implications for some property factors.
Other aspects which were identified as having resource and/or financial implications were:
- Having to provide various information and documentation free of charge. Specifically, the cost and resource implications of sending information electronically at no charge.
- Providing a detailed statement of fees, or an annual insurance statement. On the latter issue, it was noted that the responsibility for insuring their property is the homeowners and thus it is also their responsibility to instruct the factor to conduct a revaluation, unless the Deeds give specific delegated authority to do so without advance client agreement.
- Providing a copy of third party warranties if requested by the homeowner.
- Standardising complaints procedures.
- The time required for a factor to defend any action taken against them. Specifically, the time taken to prepare for and attend hearings, including preliminary hearings.
Although there were relatively few comments about the regulatory implications, those which were made included that any standardisation of complaints procedures for factors would have regulatory implications for RSLs since they have to comply with the SPSO model complaints handling procedures.
Those respondents who did not expect the proposals to have financial, regulatory or resource implications for themselves or their business tended to make only limited further comment, including that none of the changes would be expected to have significant implications.
An Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) was also prepared prior to the introduction of the current Code and again the Scottish Government is looking to determine the impact of the proposals to revise the Code. Comments received will be used to inform an updated EQIA as well as a Children’s Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment.
Question 14b: Are there any proposals in this consultation which impact or have implications on ‘equality groups’?
As illustrated in Figure 16 below, 68% of respondents did not think any of the proposals would have an impact on or have implications for ‘equality groups’, while 5% thought there would.
Figure 16: Responses to Question 14b. Also see Table 17 (Annex 2: Quantitative Analysis).
There were relatively few further comments and most of these simply noted that they had no concerns or did not think there would be any impact or that were any implications.
Possible impacts or implications that were identified included that the increased complexity of the Code and the WSS could disadvantage some people, including people with learning disabilities, those for whom English is not their first language, or older homeowners. Specifically, it was suggested that older homeowners may be less likely to have access to a computer and may struggle to access online materials.
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