Publication - Minutes

Private Rented Sector Resilience Group minutes: 12 October 2020

Published: 18 Nov 2020
Date of meeting: 12 Nov 2020
Date of next meeting: 26 Oct 2020

Minutes of the 12 October meeting of the Private Rented Sector Resilience Group.

Published:
18 Nov 2020
Private Rented Sector Resilience Group minutes: 12 October 2020

Attendees and apologies

In attendance:

  • Alice Tooms-Moore, Shelter Scotland
  • Daryl McIntosh, Propertymark
  • Debbie King, Shelter Scotland
  • Duncan Thomson, Glasgow City Council
  • Emma Anderson, North Ayrshire Council
  • Laura Caven, COSLA
  • Michael Tornow, Public Health Scotland
  • Nina Ballantyne, Citizen Advice Scotland (CAS) – (Chair)
  • Tony Cain, ALACHO
  • Amanda Callaghan, SG
  • Charlotte McHaffie, SG
  • Diane Lambie, SG
  • Katie Chan, SG
  • Mandy Brown (secretariat)
  • Mark Cooper, SG
  • Paul McGillivray, SG
  • Pauline Torley, SG
  • Yvette Sheppard, SG

Apologies:

  • John Blackwood, Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL)
  • Lisa Mallon, City of Edinburgh Council
  • Colin McRae, Dundee City Council
  • Katrina Reid, Public Health Scotland
  • Bob Drummond-Murray, SG
  • Denise Buchanan, SG
  • Scott Boyd, SG
  • Yvonne Gavan, SG
  • Catriona McKean, SG
  • Simon Roberts, SG

Items and actions

1. Welcome and introductions

CAS opened the meeting and welcomed participants.

2. Note of previous meeting and action log

Amendments to note of the previous meeting:

Short Term Lets Update: The deadline for consultation responses is 16 October 2020.   

Pre-Action Protocols Guidance: SG hopes to have guidance in place in time for any cases going to the Tribunal for 7 October

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs): North Ayrshire advised that DHP applications are not any higher than before COVID.  Post Meeting Note – It is our view that this is a result of earned income being affected as a result of COVID, which has passported applicants to full housing and council tax reduction rather than any issues with the application process.

Under Any Other Business to read: Shelter Scotland has passed on the contact for Police Scotland to the PRS Resilience chairs and Scottish Government for the contact to be invited by SG/chairs to a meeting. The police contact has confirmed that he is happy to be invited to a meeting.  

Action log: Action 86 is complete. Please email any other updates to the action log to secretariat.

3. Update from Chairs meeting with Minister

Discussed work on DHPs especially if future announcements lead to further restrictions. SAL gave an update on the PRS presentation made to the LAHRG.  Important to maintain communication between all the groups. Budget was discussed, with the UK Government timetable being uncertain this means uncertainty for timing for SG.

4. Tenant Hardship Loan Fund Update

SG thanked everyone for the feedback received which is being taken into account to determine the terms, eligibility and structure. 

SG update:

  • Likely to be set up by end of November. 
  • The loan will be interest free, with some level of deferment and with a long repayment period. 
  • SG will use existing loans contract, through Energy Savings Trust, to deliver the THLF.
  • There will be check points and gateways throughout the loan process, signposting to advice/support and other non‑repayable options which should be considered before taking out the loan.
  • Tenants will have option to ask for repayment holiday or extension to the repayment period. SG will use their standard procedures around debt recovery, if required.
  • There will be some form of credit checking in terms of risk and affordability, although probably lower criteria than commercial loan.  SG will check with contractor as to whether loan could affect the tenants credit rating.
  • SG are developing a narrative on how the loan may be useful to some tenants as part of the overall Covid response. 

Shelter Scotland queried whether tenants’ rights affected at First Tier Tribunal if tenant decides not to take out this loan.  CAS stated that Landlord Loan Fund is not included in the Pre-Action Requirements so would be really disappointed if different for tenants. The Tribunal has discretion and for them to take into account all of the circumstances. 

CAS queried whether an approach where the repayment period starts when the tenant meets a certain level of income threshold, similar to the student loan, could be considered.

Action 103: SG - to check with contactor whether the loan could affect the tenants credit rating.  Consider whether the repayment period could start when the tenant meets a certain level of income threshold. Share information on the eligibility criteria with the group as soon as available.  Share narrative on the loan when it becomes available.

5. DHP Paper and update on SG/COSLA discussions

The paper captured the possible issues with accessing DHPs:  low awareness, barriers to access, time taken to process the application and the decision making process.

SG had asked the LAs to provide information on the types of applications available and this includes online, telephone and paper applications.  Individual LAs have different approaches to managing DHP applications. SG is happy to take part in round table discussion with LAs to look at promoting greater consistency where possible.

£3m additional funding was announced for DHPs and SG are working on getting this funding to the LAs.

SG and COSLA had meeting on DHPs and SG are currently working on a paper.  Suggestion was made that maybe SG and COSLA could produce a joint questionnaire to get more feedback from the LAs.

Shelter Scotland and CAS advised happy to support work around DHPs. Would like to see DHP topped up as required, awareness raised, share good practice, streamline forms and processes.

Action 104:  SG to finalise paper and provide to COSLA.  SG and COSLA to discuss possibility of joint questionnaire for LAs.

6. Terms of Reference

Draft ToR was circulated to the group.  PHS suggested might be worth mentioning information sharing and improving the understanding of PRS in the ToR.  PHS and NAC to be added to the membership.  Important to have transparency and clear accountability.

No objections were made to reviewing the chairs and membership of the group.  Tenants voices – useful to have process to draw in more views at certain points and other organisations representing tenants as well including those from equality groups for example, Black and Ethnic Minority representatives.

Action 105:  Discuss reviewing the chairs and membership of the group at the next meeting.

Discussion of feasibility of providing a publicly available email address alongside published meeting notes that public can use to contact the group – SG agreed to discuss this and how it could be managed.

Action 106: SG to consider including a contact email address with the notes and how this might be managed.

How Minister and SG takes forward recommendations from group?  Has our work to date been included in updated version of Housing Sector Recovery Work Plan?  Can SG develop a more detailed reporting mechanism for what the group has changed/achieved? SG are having meeting with Minister to discuss and will update the group in due course. 

Action 107: SG to update the group after discussion with Minister

What issues to consider in coming months?  DHPs, THLF, tenants with no recourse to public funds, students, Tribunals restarting and evictions.  Would be helpful to have analysis of what’s going through the Tribunal.  Shelter Scotland and CAS will update the group on any relevant cases that come through them.

Action 108: SG to ask policy colleague on NRPF to give update to the group

7. AOB

Pre-Action Requirements website is now live.  SG will send link to the group.

Action 109: SG to send link to Pre-Action Requirements website

The papers include link to the updated Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan which is useful to read and might be worth discussing in the future.

8. Date and Time of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Monday 26 October from 2pm until 4pm.