Publication - Minutes

Private Rented Sector Resilience Group minutes: 14 September 2020

Published: 19 Oct 2020
Date of meeting: 14 Sep 2020

Minutes of the 14 September meeting of the Private Rented Sector Resilience Group.

Published:
19 Oct 2020
Private Rented Sector Resilience Group minutes: 14 September 2020

Attendees and apologies

In attendance:

  • Alice Tooms-Moore, Shelter Scotland
  • Colin McRae, Dundee City Council
  • Daryl McIntosh, Propertymark
  • Debbie King, Shelter Scotland
  • Duncan Thomson, Glasgow City Council
  • Emma Anderson, North Ayrshire Council
  • John Blackwood, Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL)
  • Laura Caven, COSLA
  • Lisa Mallon, City of Edinburgh Council
  • Nina Ballantyne, Citizen Advice Scotland (CAS) – Chair
  • Tony Cain, ALACHO
  • Amanda Callaghan, SG
  • Bob Drummond-Murray, SG
  • Charlotte McHaffie, SG
  • Diane Lambie, SG
  • Katie Chan, SG
  • Mandy Brown (secretariat)
  • Mark Cooper, SG
  • Paul McGillivray, SG
  • Scott Boyd, SG
  • Yvette Sheppard, SG
  • Yvonne Gavan, SG

Apologies:

  • Emma Anderson, North Ayrshire Council
  • Katrina Reid, Public Health Scotland
  • Tony Cain, ALACHO
  • Catriona MacKean, SG
  • Denise Buchanan, 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

The group was content with the note of the previous meeting.

3. Update from Chair's meeting with Minister

Discussions have focussed on the future of the resilience groups.  There is still a lot of risks within the PRS.  The PRS group is still considering the immediate risks to tenants and landlords.

Minister is keen to hear any feedback on the Programme for Government.

4. Extension of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 and Programme for Government announcement

The regulations to extend until March 2021 have been laid to Parliament.  The further regulations to vary due to anti-social behaviour and criminality have been laid to Parliament.  These are due to come into force on 3 October.

The Programme for Government has committed to ensure the notice periods continue to be extended until March 2021.  The £10m Tenant Hardship Loan Fund was announced, and also a £3m increase to DHP. The Programme for Government committed to examining the role of the PRS to help with homelessness.  A review will also be conducted of purpose built student accommodation to ensure rent affordability and improving standards across the PRS.

Action 88:  SG to advise of the dates that the Programme for Government discussed in Parliament

5. Discussion Focus:  Funding for Tenants

Discretionary Housing Payments

SG are meeting with COSLA this week to review the processes for DHP.  Following the meeting, SG are looking to set up a LA group to take this forward.

Shelter Scotland advised there is a bit of disparity between LAs and the ease to access DHP applications, as some are online and some are paper which need to be signed.    Some LAs take 4 weeks to process and other LAs take 6 months.  How can the process be more streamlined?

SG advised that looked at application forms of 19 LAs and they varied from two pages to ten pages.  Looking to reduce the content and make more streamline.  Some LAs have different IT operating systems as well so there are different methods of applying.

CAS advised tenants need increased awareness of DHPs, there are also currently barriers to the application process and need good communication channels.

Action 89:  Please send any comments/suggestions on DHP

Tenant Hardship Loan Fund

The Programme for Government announced at £10m Tenant Hardship Loan Fund (THLF).  SG are at the start of developing the policy work around this fund.  This is a no cost loan, with no arrangement fees or interest rates, so should help to address short term issues.

SG are looking for feedback on the process and inviting stakeholders to get involved in shaping the terms and conditions of the loan. 

Shelter Scotland advised the fund could help certain tenants who are struggling with rent but have concerns about tenants who already have lots of other debt.  Would like to feed into any discussions on how it is set up and who it is for.

Action 90: Discuss Tenant Hardship Loan Fund further at the next meeting.  Also, please email any comments/suggestions on the THLF.

6. Pre-Action Requirements Guidance

The latest version of the PARs guidance has annexes attached with template letters for the landlords.  There are four letters in total.  Reference is also made to Safe Deposits Scotland as a free and independent service.  A spreadsheet is also included for landlords to send to tenants.  

SAL suggested a summary document might be useful.  SG advised are considering an executive summary with links to the annexes.  SAL also suggested the date was added to page 14 as applies to notices after 7 April.

CAS commented that the PARs guidance refers to SDS scheme and the guidance should be clear that other options are available.

Action 91:  please provide any comments on the PARs guidance by cop Wednesday

7. Future role of the Group

Suggested that might be worth revisiting the Terms of Reference for the PRS group.  Require more clarity on the purpose of the PRS group at this stage and how feed into decisions.  Once addressed more urgent, current matters the group could consider Housing to 2040, Housing System Policy Circle and the short term lets regulations.

Action 92: Circulate TORs from the other resilience groups

Action 93:  Please send any thoughts on objectives/new actions for the PRS group

Action 94: Circulate update on the short term lets regulations consultation which came out today.  SG will also ask policy lead to attend the next meeting.

8. Date and Time of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Monday 28 September from 2pm until 4pm.  Date may be changed, if limited numbers, as this is a Glasgow holiday.