Publication - Minutes

Private Rented Sector Resilience Group minutes: 31 August 2020

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

Minutes of the 31 August meeting of the Private Rented Sector Resilience Group.

Published:
17 Sep 2020
Private Rented Sector Resilience Group minutes: 31 August 2020

Attendees and apologies

In attendance:

  • Alice Tooms-Moore, Shelter Scotland
  • Debbie King, Shelter Scotland
  • Duncan Thomson, Glasgow City Council
  • Emma Anderson, North Ayrshire Council
  • John Blackwood, Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) – Chair
  • Katey Tabner, COSLA
  • Laura Caven, COSLA
  • Michael Tornow, Public Health Scotland
  • Nina Ballantyne, Citizen Advice Scotland (CAS)
  • Tony Cain, ALACHO
  • Amanda Callaghan, SG
  • Bob Drummond-Murray, SG
  • Denise Buchanan, SG
  • Katie Chan, SG
  • Mandy Brown (secretariat)
  • Mark Cooper, SG
  • Paul McGillivray, SG
  • Scott Boyd, SG
  • Simon Roberts, SG
  • Yvette Sheppard, SG
  • Yvonne Gavan, SG

Apologies:

  • Colin McRae, Dundee City Council
  • Lisa Mallon, City of Edinburgh Council
  • Daryl McIntosh, Propertymark
  • Katrina Reid, Public Health Scotland
  • Catriona McKean, SG
  • Charlotte McHaffie, SG

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.

SG are currently arranging for the PRS notes to be published.

Action 80:  SG will send link to the group once the PRS notes are published

Action log:

Action 9:  Shelter have arranged meeting with police later in September – will provide feedback from this meeting

One illegal eviction in Dundee which had the lock changed – Shelter have reported this.

Action 54 and 55: completed

3. Feedback from Chairs meeting with Minister

The note from the meeting on 12 August was circulated to the group.  PHS commented would like to see the Housing Sector Recovery Plan.

Action 81: Send Housing Sector Recovery Plan to PHS and the other PRS members

The Minister had just received the PRS tenancy sustainment proposals paper prior to the last meeting.  It was commented that SG does not control some of these areas of business so has limited powers.  The Minister has asked Officials to look at these recommendations and what options there is to increase resources to tenants beyond DHP.

4. Private Landlord Pre-Action Protocols Update

The Pre-Action Protocols are currently going through the Parliamentary process.  The Committee stage should be completed by the end of this week.  They are due to come into force around 19 September.

SG are currently finalising the second draft of the guidance which will support the regulations.

Action 82:  SG to circulate the second draft of the guidance to the group for comments

Scottish Association of Landlords Members Survey Update

The survey has been shared with the PRS group for information.

6. Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020:  Update on extension of provisions

Thanks to everyone who submitted evidence.

As part of the First Minister’s Programme for Government announcement tomorrow there will be information on extending the provisions and support for tenants.

7. Discussion Focus:  Supporting tenants with debt/rent arrears

How support tenants who might come into debt/rent arrears in next couple of months, for example due to furlough ending, people already in rent arrears and people who are vulnerable to rent arrears.

Suggestions/comments included: 

  • Targeted support for tenants, including those most affected due to Covid.  Tenants have difficulty trying to negotiate the application process.  Could consider other ways to get in touch with people who might be affected, such as including info along with the educational grant, to reach more people.
  • There is a lack of uptake of DHP with a 3% rise in May 2020 compared to May 2019. LAs have to manage the DHP allocation to last throughout the year. There are structural processes which are barriers and different processes between LAs/departments.  There’s the opportunity for more departments to work closely together. Could SG get feedback from all LAs on the barriers to accessing DHP.  Would be helpful to have contribution from LA colleagues with benefits background.  
  • What other funds could be provided to tenants?  If they don’t get UC, what other benefits could they get? Could a grant be available, perhaps time limited?  Is it possible to change how DHP works, could it be decoupled from UC?  Can SG change the access to benefits?

Action 83: ALACHO will contact GCC to get advice/feedback from colleague involved in the benefits process

Action 84: Shelter will circulate stats for DHPs and welfare grants.

8. Future focus of the Group

Tenancy sustainment and preventing evictions is crucial. 

What are the different options we could put in place to support tenants?  Increased communication, where appropriate, might help.  Alternative route to get tenants help if they are not engaging with their landlord. Could landlords make LAs aware of any potential homelessness as early as possible? 

The Landlord Loan Scheme is being extended to end of March 2021.  SG received 87 applications to date, which have mainly been for void properties.  SG are currently taking into account the feedback on the scheme to assist with planning the second phase.

Focus on getting empty properties back into use.  What support can empty homes officers provide to landlords?  The terms for the empty homes partnership have been amended during the Covid period.

Action 85:  SG to provide update on LLS and discuss at future meeting

Action 86:  Shelter will get an update on the empty homes partnership

Action 87:  Shelter and CAS will produce paper on future focus of group.  Please get in touch if anyone else would like to contribute to producing this paper.

9. Date and Time of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Monday 14 September from 2pm until 4pm.