Publication - Minutes

Private Rented Sector Resilience Group minutes: 17 August 2020

Published: 17 Sep 2020
Date of meeting: 17 Aug 2020
Date of next meeting: 31 Aug 2020

Minutes of the 17 August meeting of the Private Rented Sector Resilience Group.

Published:
17 Sep 2020
Private Rented Sector Resilience Group minutes: 17 August 2020

Attendees and apologies

In attendance:

  • Daryl McIntosh, Propertymark
  • Debbie King, Shelter Scotland
  • Duncan Thomson, Glasgow City Council
  • John Blackwood, Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL)
  • Katey Tabner, COSLA
  • Katrina Reid, Public Health Scotland
  • Nina Ballantyne, Citizen Advice Scotland (CAS) – Chair
  • Tony Cain, ALACHO
  • Charlotte McHaffie, SG
  • Denise Buchanan, SG
  • Mandy Brown (secretariat)
  • Mark Cooper, SG
  • Paul McGillivray, SG
  • Yvette Sheppard, SG
  • Yvonne Gavan, SG
  • Diane Lambie, SG
  • Merlin Kemp, SG

Apologies:

  • Alice Tooms-Moore, Shelter Scotland
  • Colin McRae, Dundee City Council
  • Emma Anderson, North Ayrshire Council
  • Lisa Mallon, City of Edinburgh Council
  • Amanda Callaghan, SG
  • Bob Drummond-Murray, SG
  • Catriona McKean, SG
  • Katie Chan, SG
  • Scott Boyd, 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

Please email any amendments to the previous note and any updates to the action log to the secretariat.

Action 9:  SG have been in touch with their contact at Police Scotland regarding illegal evictions.  Police Scotland are working on stats which they hope to share by end of week.  They are happy to work with us on comms to Police Scotland.  Shelter advised they are also in touch with Police Scotland and will feedback any information from them to the group as well.

3. Ministerial meeting update

There has been discussions on void properties and linking between local sector landlords and the Local Authorities.

At FMQ it was announced that SG will extend no evictions policy for those affected by COVID19 subject to parliament voting in favour.

Action 75: Please provide any relevant evidence/data which may assist regarding the powers being extended.

4. Private Landlord Pre-Action Protocols update

The group were thanked for their feedback on the draft guidance.  SG are currently going through the draft to check what other changes are required.

The draft regulations were laid to Parliament on 10 August.  The Committee hearing is 18 August and looking to be enforced by 19 September.

Action 76:  SG to send the second draft of the guidance to the group once ready, which should be in the next couple of weeks.

5. Discussion Focus: Discretionary Housing Payments

SG policy leads from DHP attended the meeting.  Advised that can be tricky for PRS tenants to access DHPs relative to the social sector who historically have a close working relationship between council and landlords.

SG allocates funds to councils according to welfare funds.  Councils are free to spend as they see fit and they can also top up from their own funds.

SG have been contacting the councils every month for feedback on any pressures.  To date, there has been very little response from the councils.  Staff were prioritising Scottish welfare funds applications as there has been a spike in applications due to COVID19.

SG have been tweeting re DHPs and the welfare fund.  Also been advertised by DWP and signposting to councils by a number of sources including landlords, LA staff from other areas and CAS.

The 5 week wait period for the DHP has had an impact.  Shelter advised they have been supporting people to obtain DHP and has been taking longer than 5 weeks. 

Shelter commented that fairly low uptake of DHPs and need to be in receipt of housing benefit or UC.  SG advised could look at bolt ons and also how to support specific groups to plug the gaps.  COSLA and Shelter advised they would be keen to be involved in these discussions.

With the Social Security Act there is the power to create housing assistance and create new benefits using that power.  SG is currently seeking legal advice on this matter.  Could create discretionary scheme for LAs.  Could have emergency COVID19 proposals or permanent proposals. 

Some people have difficulty completing the forms as they are so detailed.  There are barriers to getting DHP and SG are aware of one case which was rejected due to the 52/53 week fiscal year.  DHP today covers a broader remit and the capacity for councils to respond is limited.  Councils have to spread budget over the year.  When furlough ends there may be an increase in applications so will need to monitor over the coming months.

Action 77:  Please provide any feedback on DHP rejections to SG.

6. Future focus for PRS Resilience Group

The group discussed the future focus of the PRS group and it was suggested that might want to focus on DHPs and potentially finding a way to plug the gaps for tenants.

Action 78:  All - to email any suggestions/ideas for what the PRS group should focus on going forward to CAS

7. AOB

Tenants letter and toolkit: SG thanked the group for their assistance with the tenants letter and toolkit and also for helping to publicise through the various channels.  There has been a positive response to the letter and toolkit.

Tenancy sustainment paper:  CAS thanked the group for the work done to date on the paper.  The paper, once finalised, will be officially passed to SG for the Minister.  Shelter commented that happy for the paper to go forward as it is, but would be beneficial to have discussions further down the line to see if any areas need tweaked.  Due to leave, ALACHO have still to look over the current draft.

Action 79:  ALACHO and COSLA to discuss and provide any comments by cop today, 17 August.

SAL:  Report on the impact of Covid-19 on queries to SAL helpline was circulated with the papers to the group.

8. Date and Time of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Monday 31 August from 2pm until 4pm.