Publication - Minutes

Private Rented Sector Resilience Group minutes: 3 August 2020

Published: 17 Sep 2020
Date of meeting: 3 Aug 2020
Date of next meeting: 17 Aug 2020

Minutes of the 3 August meeting of the Private Rented Sector Resilience Group.

Published:
17 Sep 2020
Private Rented Sector Resilience Group minutes: 3 August 2020

Attendees and apologies

In attendance:

  • Alice Tooms-Moore, Shelter Scotland
  • Colin McRae, Dundee City Council
  • Daryl McIntosh, Propertymark
  • Duncan Thomson, Glasgow City Council
  • Emma Anderson, North Ayrshire Council
  • John Blackwood, Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) - Chair
  • Katrina Reid, Public Health Scotland
  • Lisa Mallon, City of Edinburgh Council
  • Nina Ballantyne, Citizen Advice Scotland (CAS)
  • Bob Drummond-Murray, SG
  • Charlotte McHaffie, SG
  • Katie Chan, SG
  • Mandy Brown (secretariat)
  • Mark Cooper, SG
  • Paul McGillivray, SG
  • Scott Boyd, SG
  • Simon Roberts, SG
  • Yvonne Gavan, SG

Apologies:

  • Debbie King, Shelter Scotland
  • Katey Tabner, COSLA
  • Tony Cain, ALACHO
  • Catriona McKean, SG
  • Denise Buchanan, SG
  • Yvette Sheppard, SG
  • Amanda Callaghan, SG

Items and actions

1. Welcome and introductions

SAL opened the meeting and welcomed participants.

2. Note of previous meeting and action log

The following amendments were noted:

Action 9: to add that the 20 cases of potential evictions were all resolved and all remained (apart from one who left of their own accord) and all evictions were avoided.

Also amend text to read: Shelter raised a query in relation to Reposit schemes. These are schemes being used by landlords and letting agents in place of a deposit. Tenants are required to pay the equivalent of one weeks rent into the scheme (non-refundable) and this means the landlord is insured for up to 8 weeks rent arrears. That payment is only valid for 12 months, then the tenant is required to pay a £30 yearly top up.

Action 62: ALACHO will approach Edinburgh Council about their representation on the PRS Resilience Group.

Agenda item 7, under Extending emergency powers on evictions to read: SAL and PropertyMark did not support an extension to the emergency powers. They felt that delaying evictions might not be dealing with the real problems of tenants not being able to afford to pay their rent, but were keen to support the forthcoming pre action protocols to help tenants deal with problems.

Action log:

Action 9: Contacted Aberdeen Council about the attempted evictions and also made Police Scotland aware.  PHS have contact at Police Scotland so will share their contact details with Shelter.

Action 62: still ongoing

Action 68: still ongoing - arranging for DHP policy lead to attend one of the PRS meetings

3. Ministerial meeting update

SAL advised these meetings are now moving to fortnightly.

The proposals the PRS group put forward in the Tenancy Sustainment document will be important to the Housing Sector Recovery Plan.

The note from the meeting on 22 July provides following update from SHRG: Evictions – differentiate between Covid and non Covid arrears. Will do some work on this. Further discussion on future legislation in terms of evictions.

Action 70: SAL will provide an update to the group on the SHRG point regarding evictions.

4. Private Landlord Pre-Action Protocols update

The Pre-Action Protocols Guidance has been sent to the group for review.

Comment was made that point 51 needs further explanation to clarify what is a vulnerable tenant and also what is an independent advocacy.

SG advised that working with legal team and Parliament on the final timescales so have flexibility to take any comments.  SAL stated the protocols should be issued ASAP.

Action 71: Provide any comments by Friday 7 August, although please let SG know if you need further time to provide comments

6. Ministerial letter and tenants resource

SG thanked everyone for their comments and advised the draft letter has now been finalised.  The full version of the toolkit will be published on the SG website and the letters will be sent out by the end of the week. SG will alert the local authority landlord regulations team. 

Action 72: SG will share final version of the letter and toolkit with the group

6. Discussion Focus: Tenancy Sustainment

The group discussed the latest version of the document.

There are nine proposals in the unanimously supported recommendations.  The group discussed and confirmed agreed with all these nine proposals.  The following comments were made:

Proposal 2 – second bullet – should be at least two options

Proposal 3 - to add – Scottish Government on assessing whether existing best practice and financial support

On the emergency fund, SAL would be keen to see an additional emergency fund.  CAS agreed to add more information on the emergency fund and also to add as its own recommendation.

Proposal 7 – change of wording: proposes that SG encourages Police Scotland

Action 73: SG has contact in Police Scotland – will ask to attend or feed into the group

Group then discussed the summary of recommendations proposed but not yet agreed.  All were agreed apart from proposal 3 and 4.  Comments were:

Proposal 2 – first bullet: CAS will amend wording of first section and add: with a view to permanent revised PARs through housing legislation introduced to ensure landlords and tenants work together to continue to support tenants wherever possible and prevent homelessness.

Delete second and third bullet

Proposal 3 – SAL and Propertymark don’t support this recommendation.  Shelter would like it to remain discretionary forever. 

Proposal 4 – Add: how tenants and landlords are affected by the pandemic and the long-term implications of this.

SAL and Propertymark don’t support this recommendation.  Shelter support.

Proposal 5 – first bullet – Shelter will email amended wording

PHS advised links to work CASH have been doing.  PHS will provide contact details for CAS to link up with them.

Proposal 6 – Agreed but not via landlord registration process

Proposal 7 – to amend: Standards should also be set for holiday lets at parity and safety with long-term lets.

Repairs section:

SG will provide revised wording for repairs and signposting to guidance

Emergency powers to delay eviction for rent arrears section:

Group clarified that if emergency powers not extended then the notice to leave would commence in October, the eviction process would start from November so be March/April before evictions would happen due to length of time to go through tribunal.

Action 74: CAS will send round updated version of the document for any comments by Wednesday 12 August

7. Any other business

A paper on DHP from COSLA was sent to the group for information.  A written update was also provided on the HSPC.

8. Date and Time of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Monday 17 August from 2pm until 4pm.