Publication - Minutes

Private Rented Sector Resilience Group minutes: 23 November 2020

Published: 27 Jan 2021
Date of meeting: 23 Nov 2020
Date of next meeting: 7 Dec 2020

Minutes of the Private Rented Sector Resilience Group meeting, held on 23 November 2020

Published:
27 Jan 2021
Private Rented Sector Resilience Group minutes: 23 November 2020

Attendees and apologies

In attendance:

  • Alice Tooms-Moore, Shelter Scotland
  • Debbie King, Shelter Scotland
  • John Blackwood, Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) – chair
  • Laura Caven, COSLA
  • Katrina Reid, Public Health Scotland
  • Chris McKee, City of Edinburgh Council
  • Nina Ballantyne, Citizen Advice Scotland (CAS)
  • Yvonne Gavan, SG
  • Denise Buchanan, SG
  • Merlin Kemp SG
  • Karen Major SG

Apologies:

  • Emma Anderson, North Ayrshire Council
  • Colin McRae, Dundee City Council
  • Daryl McIntosh, Propertymark
  • Duncan Thomson, Glasgow City Council
  • Tony Cain, ALACHO
  • Amanda Callaghan, SG
  • Mandy Brown (secretariat)

Items and actions

1. Welcome and introductions

SAL 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.

Action log:

The following updates to the action log were noted:

105 - Terms of reference – The group agreed terms of reference for the group pending equalities considerations. Important to add information on equalities to the terms of reference for the group and consider how to link in with minority groups. Noted that PHS has information on some groups. Resilience Group members to feedback to SG on suggested organisations.

113 - HMO feedback – Edinburgh has been inspecting new applications and renewals of HMO licences since 1 September. SG to contact ALACHO for overall information on local authorities.

117 - Short term lets update – The SSI will be laid in December. There will be further engagement on guidance in spring 2021.

118 – COSLA update on resilience planning has been moved to the next meeting.

119 – There was no update on the number of Section 11 notices, carried forward to the next meeting, SG will contact ALACHO for information

120 – The President of the Housing and Property Chamber, First Tier Tribunal will be happy to attend a future meeting to speak to the HPC report once published. SG to follow up to arrange.

121 – NRPF – to be carried forward.

3. Energy efficiency regulations and standards in the PRS

SG intends to lay the regulations in Parliament in this Parliamentary session. From 1 April 2021 all new PRS lets will need to meet EPC D by April 2022.  All PRS properties will need to meet EPC D from 31 March 2025. There will be one cost cap of £10,000 for work carried out. SAL asked whether they should be encouraging landlords to start carrying out work soon, and whether the original plan to include work from October 2019 in the cost cap will still be the case. SAL also noted some concerns about the availability of trades to carry out the work.  The Energy Efficiency team will respond to these queries.  Exemptions will be as before, but without reference to EPC E. Guidance will be issued at the same time as regulations come into law.  Any queries can be addressed to the SG Energy Efficiency Team, contact Karen.Major@gov.scot 

CAS can also offer advice on energy efficiency,  contact Emily.Rice@cas.org.uk  

4.  Financial support for tenants 

The group discussed a written update on the Tenant Hardship Loan Fund. SG confirmed the launch date as 7 December 2020.

Action 122- Shelter Scotland/COSLA and CAS will suggested changes to narrative in guidance on financial advice and will pass these to SG

Action 123 - SG to confirm timeline for comms plan for THLF 

Discretionary Housing Payments and Scottish Welfare Fund

SG is considering resuming meetings of a group of stakeholders from the Third Sector, landlords and local authorities to discuss the gaps in support in DHPS and SWF, with the aim of defining a group people who can be helped.

Action 124 - SG to look at the limits on the uses of the Scottish Welfare Fund and send information to the group on the option to administer and manage criteria for DHP from Holyrood. 

5. Update on SG response to initial proposals from PRS group 

The group discussed DHPS and the Scottish Welfare fund and are keen to find out if the uses of the fund can be extended, for example, can the SWF be used to help pay rent arrears, where there are no other options for tenants.  Noted that it is important that as many people as possible get access to the fund.  The group supported writing to the UK government for clarity on the uses of the fund.  Social Security Colleagues will have discussions with SWF colleagues about the limits of the use of the fund.

Shelter Scotland and CAS supported ensuring as many people get access to DHPs as possible.  CAS also queried whether SWF could be used by students.

Action 125 – SG to check whether DHPS and SWF can be used to help students and tenants in rent arrears.

6. Housing in the forthcoming budget 

The medium term financial strategy will be published by SG on 28 January 2021.

The group would like to see the following in the SG budget:

CAS - continuing support for DHPs in the budget plus resources to promote DHPS, in addition to seeing any underspend rolled over.

Shelter Scotland - support for people to keep their homes.

PHS - discuss access to affordable housing at the next meeting.

Action 126 - Group to discuss at next meeting and SG will feedback any comments from the group.

Action 127 - SG will check whether there is any comment on the UK budget and feedback to the group.

7. Moving housing guidance for PRS in Tier 4 areas

Moving home guidance was circulated on and the website is now up to date. Home moves are possible and essential repairs can be continued. The group noted concerns from SAL about the delay in issuing guidance after the announcement of tier 4 restrictions. COSLA also noted that it is a useful learning point to have guidance in advance where possible.   

8. Co-chair changes and future of the group

SAL will step down as Co-Chair of the group, but will continue to have links and discussions with SG officials and with the group on an ad hoc basis.

Four SG officials will continue to support the group, other SG officials will attend the group and provide written updates as necessary.  The group will consider whether to move to monthly meetings in the New Year at the next meeting on 7 December. CAS noted that current uncertainties may mean that the group has to meet fortnightly, depending on circumstances.

PHS suggested that the response to Mr Stewart’s letter may help to develop an action plan for monthly meetings.

COSLA suggested that the three resilience groups could come together and to look at how to better organise so that the groups workplans could better align.

Action 128 -   The group will discuss whether to change the frequency of meetings to monthly at the next meeting on 7 December and any interest in the role of co- chair of the group.

Action 129– SG to look at how feedback from the group is shared with the Minister and how the work of the resilience groups could be better aligned.

9. Any other business- restructure of the Private Housing Services Unit

The group noted the information about the restructure of the SG Private Housing Services Unit.

CAS thanked officials for the written updates on policy and noted that they worked well and would like to see more in the future. SG will be happy to arrange this.

The group agreed to discuss a response to the letter from Mr Stewart to the group and writing to the UK Government on financial support for tenants at the next meeting on 7 January.

Action 130 - Any comments on Mr Stewarts letter to CAS as soon as possible and agenda item for next meeting to discuss response.  

10. Date and Time of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Monday 7 December from 2pm until 4pm (this will be the last meeting of 2020)