Publication - Minutes

Private Rented Sector Resilience Group minutes: 7 December 2020

Published: 22 Jan 2021
Date of meeting: 7 Dec 2020
Date of next meeting: 11 Jan 2021

Minutes of the 7 December meeting of the Private Rented Sector Resilience Group.

Published:
22 Jan 2021
Private Rented Sector Resilience Group minutes: 7 December 2020

Attendees and apologies

  • 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)
  • Laura Caven, COSLA
  • Katrina Reid, Public Health Scotland
  • Nina Ballantyne, Citizen Advice Scotland (CAS) – Chair
  • Merlin Kemp, SG – for DHP
  • Denise Buchanan, SG
  • Mandy Brown (secretariat)
  • Charlotte McHaffie, SG

 

Apologies:

  • Tony Cain, ALACHO
  • Yvonne Gavan, SG
  • Colin McRae, Dundee City Council
  • Chris McKee, City of Edinburgh Council
  • Daryl McIntosh, Propertymark
  • Amanda Callaghan, SG

Items and actions

1 Welcome and introductions

CAS opened the meeting and welcomed participants. SAL and Propertymark will no longer be members of the group from 2021.  The group would like to thank both of them for all their hard work and input.

2. Note of previous meeting and action log

The group was content with the note of the previous meeting.  Suggestion was made  that go through all the actions in the log in full in the New Year.

Action log:

Action 117 Short term lets – aim to lay the SSI in December

Action 118 Resilience planning – COSLA will speak to colleagues and provide update on any anticipated impact over winter for LA services, such as evictions, HMOs, etc

Action 121 NRPF – SG will check with colleagues 1217103.

3. Update from Chairs meeting with Minister

At meeting, recapped on some of work during this year by the resilience groups.  The spending review was discussed but no further information yet as was just after the announcement.  Also, discussed the £100m winter support fund for families and children. Overnight welcome centres have now opened in Glasgow and Edinburgh, providing emergency accommodation for people at risk of rough sleeping.  The deadline for the HSPC report is 16 December but it is not clear yet if this will be the final report or if this will be presented in January. The Tenant Hardship Loan Fund opened this morning, 7 December, for applications.

4. Group response to letter from Mr Stewart

Written comments from Shelter Scotland and PHS circulated to the group.

Comments:

  • Actions are mostly medium term, but some longer term and can look at them in the New Year
  • Recognise that have fair amount of data but what about knowledge of lived experiences?
  • How maximise income – may relate to DHP action plan but take wider?
  • How support tenants who don’t have anywhere else to go and struggling to pay rent?  Perhaps Scottish Welfare Fund? 
  • DHP is important and to get commitment that will keep the pay pot topped up
  • Maybe look at other ways to get non-repayable financial support to tenants
  • Proposal to write to UK Government - when be most effective timing?
  • Work with Police Scotland and raise awareness of illegal evictions, particularly with the evictions being halted over the for 6 weeks, from 11 December to 22 January. PHS and Shelter Scotland will discuss and link up with Police Scotland.
  • PRS toolkit was published in August and SG are going to update this resource since the THLF has just launched
  • SG advised that easy read notes are given to tenants at start of tenancy but highly detailed.  SG recently did one page at beginning which sets out the key points.
  • CAS and SG are shortly launching a Tenants rights campaign which will include signposting to the Tenant Hardship Loan Fund and messages on illegal eviction.  Shelter Scotland would like to be kept in loop so can also promote. SG will ask the marketing team to send information and will share with group as due to launch on 8 December.
  • Shelter Scotland advised seems to be bit of confusion over repair work with the current restrictions and repairs are not being carried out.  SAL advised landlords have reported that having difficulty getting into people’s properties in level four.  SAL have also been signposting tradespeople to SG website.  Suggestion was made that might be beneficial to have one document online, with all the relevant information together, that all sectors can refer too.
  • Consider comms channels with tenants and landlords
  • Used the tenancy deposit scheme before, wonder if can be used on more regular basis for communication?
  • GCC advised put out quarterly reports to all landlords and due to issue next newsletter before Christmas
  • The President from First Tier Tribunal will come along to a PRS meeting in the New Year. They are currently compiling their annual report which is due to publish this year so will have copy prior to the meeting.

Action 131:  Please contact SG THLF team with any amendments/suggestions for the PRS toolkit

Action 132:  SG will consider whether to create one online guidance document that all sectors can refer too

Action 133: GCC will share the newsletter to landlords with group

Action 134:  SG will check with the landlord registration team to find out which LAs have newsletters.

Action 135: Shelter Scotland will draft the two letters for the UK Government

Action 136:  Will share information on the SG/CAS campaign on tenants’ rights

5. Budget discussion

Group discussed what could be asked for in the forthcoming SG budget?

Comments:

  • Additional resources to help administer and manage DHP would be beneficial
  • Support for those with no access to DHPs, such as, students and those with NRPF.
  • Commitment to top up the DHP pot, if required, at least up to the end of Parliament
  • COSLA have their own spending campaign so will refrain from participating in these discussions.

Action 137: SG officials to consider these asks for the forthcoming budget

6. Discretionary Housing Payments

SG is considering resuming the Housing and Social Security Stakeholder Group.  Important to map out the gaps where DHPs is not doing the job.  Need to define the specific groups of people who are falling through the cracks – numbers and data would be beneficial.  Members advised concerned about people with NRPF, students, agricultural workers, hospitality sector and people who have either lost job, been furloughed or working less hours due to Covid. Group happy to help and provide any input or support to help move these actions along.

Action 138: send any comments/feedback to SG DHP team

7. Co-chair changes and future of the group

SAL advised happy for the group to get in touch if need any information/support from a landlords perspective.  There is now a vacancy for co-chair if any member would like to volunteer.  Group was reminded to get in touch with SG with any suggestions on membership and also consider information on equalities for the ToR.

Comments:

  • The group agree that the PRS and supporting tenants is important
  • Can we have a PRS resilience group without PRS representation?
  • Will there be a different focus to group if no landlord membership and if so, should the group revisit the TOR?
  • Do Officials or the Minister have any thoughts regarding the group going forward?

Action 139:  recirculate the ToR

Action 140:  SG to update on the PRS group going forward

8.  AOB: Tenant Hardship Loan Fund

SG will be monitoring the THLF and will receive weekly stats from the loan administrator. Tenants have to go through the application process so it will take time for the data to feed through, such as, how many are using the fund and how many not eligible.  The THLF will not be suitable for everyone.  Will also monitor to ensure landlords are not pressuring any tenants to take out this loan. Landlords also have to consent for the tenant to receive the THLF, which may cause issues, so SG may revise the FAQs. The Landlord Loan Fund is also currently available for landlords who have lost rental income due to tenants being unable to pay rent. 

Action 141:  SG will provide data on the THLF, once available, to the group.  Please send any other queries/comments to the SG THLF team.

9. Date and Time of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Monday 11 January from 2pm until 4pm.  CAS suggested that continue to meet every two weeks to start with in the New Year.