- 23 Mar 2021
Attendees and apologies
- Alice Tooms-Moore, Shelter Scotland
- Debbie King, Shelter Scotland
- Emma Anderson, North Ayrshire Council
- Laura Caven, COSLA
- Katrina Reid, Public Health Scotland
- Nina Ballantyne, Citizen Advice Scotland (CAS) – Chair
- Denise Buchanan, SG
- Mandy Brown (secretariat)
- Charlotte McHaffie, SG
- Tony Cain, ALACHO
- Amanda Callaghan, SG
- Aileen Devanny, President, Housing and Property Chamber - Guest
- Aoife Deery, Citizen Advice Scotland (CAS)
- Katie Chan, SG
- Chris McKee, City of Edinburgh Council
- Yvonne Gavan, SG
- Duncan Thomson, Glasgow City Council
- Colin McRae, Dundee City Council
Items and actions
1. Welcome from the Chair
CAS opened the meeting and welcomed participants.
2. Note of previous meeting and action log
The group was content with the note of the previous meeting.
Due to a full agenda it was agreed to discuss the following actions at the next meeting: 9, 104, 105, 107, 118, 119, 121, 124, 131, 133, 134, 135, 140.
3. Update from Chairs meeting with Minister
The group was updated on the last Chairs meeting with Minister, which was in December, and mainly focussed on the ban on evictions over the Christmas period.
4. The President of the Housing and Property Chamber (HPC)
Update was given to the group on the work of the Housing and Property Chamber. The HPC annual report, which is due to publish in February, was also discussed.
- Appreciate the extra level of detail which is provided in this year’s annual report.
- Query was raised as to whether HPC can provide stats on representation at the hearings? HPC advised that difficult to identify whether represented throughout the whole process as not everyone notifies them and people can get independent advice but not have a representative at the hearing so difficult to give accurate information. Additionally, their case management systems don’t capture this information however the decisions are available on their website.
- Would be useful to capture data or conduct qualitative research to better understand tenants experiences.
- The Tribunals overall objective is to assist but not advise as have to be independent. HPC do request feedback at the end of the process but few respond.
- HPC takes an enabling approach and guidance is also available on their website. By law landlords, property factors and letting agencies are also required to provide information to tenants when they take on the tenancy.
- Pre-actions requirements: HPC advised have received cases where the notice period has not expired and have discretion to consider the reasonable tests for bringing early application or whether premature. These decisions should be appearing on the HPC website.
- Would be useful to see the volume of applications throughout the year? HPC circulated, during the meeting, information on the applications for civil proceedings, evictions and tenancy deposits schemes.
5. Progress on DHPs
Group confirmed would be useful to get an update from the DHP team on what progress has been made (action 104) and also any information regarding DHPs and the next budget.
Action 142: SG to provide update on DHPs at next meeting
6. Tenant Hardship Loan Fund – first month
The Minister was updated on 14 December and at that stage 244 applications had been received. Many of the applications didn’t include the full tenancy agreement, which will delay the process, so will need to consider how to make it clearer that need to provide the tenancy agreement. As of 14 December, 7 applications had been rejected which was either due to not meeting eligibility criteria or already being in arrears prior to 1 January 2020. The fund opened on 11 December so don’t have full months stats yet. Will update the group once these stats are available.
- Important to preempt any issues that arise during the application process.
- Will be interesting to see how many are private residential tenancy, how many handwritten or verbal agreements.
- Useful to have information on who is applying for this loan.
- Query was raised whether any signposting to alternative support or funding? SG advised that signposting throughout the process before they apply for the loan. SG will check whether any further signposting should a tenant apply but not be successful.
- Queried whether the stats from the loan with be publicly available? SG are currently considering how to report this information.
Action 143: SG will check whether any further signposting should a tenant apply but not be successful. SG will provide a written update to the group once the stats are available.
7. The Scottish Government budget
The SG budget and medium term financial strategy for 2021-22 is due on
28 January. SG is committed to spending £8.2 billion of Barnett consequentials to support Scotland’s Covid-19 response.
The group supported:
- Commitment to top up the DHP and SWF pot, if required.
- Additional resources to help administer and manage DHP would be beneficial.
- Support for those with no access to DHPs, such as, students and those with NRPF. Also, support for households who many now be on less hours, lower wage and experiencing difficulties due to Covid.
- Queried whether any non-repayable support for tenants?
8. Update on moving homes guidance
SG issued stay at home guidance to support the stay at home regulations that came into effect on 5 January. However, essential services can continue, including home moves and all activities in connection with moving home. However, people may want to consider postponing where appropriate and if possible.
9. Update on enforcement of eviction orders
The ban on the enforcement of eviction orders has been extended until at least 31 March, in line with other coronavirus regulations. The regulations will be reviewed every 21 days. This ensures that no eviction orders can be enforced within an area subject to level 3 or 4 restrictions. This protects renters and other individuals, such as sheriff officers from having to attend properties, especially with this new variant of the virus. There are limited exceptions in the regulations, evictions may still be possible when they are a result of anti-social or criminal behavior.
- Would have been helpful to receive more advanced notice of the intention to extend the ban.
- Concerned that the ban on winter evictions may occur every year, which currently happens in France. SG advised that the ban on evictions was only implemented due to Covid and the health concerns.
- How will the financial consequences of this ban be addressed?
- COSLA have been in contact with SG and need to work together on solutions, including the financial implications, and what happens at the end of this period.
Action 144: Please contact SG with any feedback or thoughts on support/services to assist at the end of this period.
10. Any other business
Group agreed at next meeting to discuss the ToR and an update on DHP would also be useful. The action log will also be discussed and updated at next meeting.