Publication - Minutes

Private Rented Sector Resilience Group minutes: 9 November 2020

Published: 27 Jan 2021
Date of meeting: 9 Nov 2020
Date of next meeting: 23 Nov 2020

Minutes of the meeting of the Private Rented Sector Resilience Group on 9 November 2020

Published:
27 Jan 2021
Private Rented Sector Resilience Group minutes: 9 November 2020

Attendees and apologies

In attendance:

 

  • Alice Tooms-Moore, Shelter Scotland
  • Colin McRae, Dundee City Council
  • Debbie King, Shelter Scotland
  • Emma Anderson, North Ayrshire Council
  • John Blackwood, Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL)
  • Laura Caven, COSLA
  • Katrina Reid, Public Health Scotland
  • Chris McKee, City of Edinburgh Council
  • Nina Ballantyne, Citizen Advice Scotland (CAS) – (chair)
  • Tony Cain, ALACHO
  • Merlin Kemp, SG – for DHP
  • Amanda Callaghan, SG
  • Bob Drummond-Murray, SG
  • Charlotte McHaffie, SG
  • Denise Buchanan, SG
  • Katie Chan, SG
  • Mandy Brown (secretariat)
  • Paul McGillivray, SG
  • Yvette Sheppard, SG
  • Yvonne Gavan, SG

Apologies:

  • Daryl McIntosh, Propertymark
  • Duncan Thomson, Glasgow City Council
  • Catriona MacKean, SG
  • Scott Boyd, SG
  • Simon Roberts, SG
  • Mark Cooper, SG

Items and actions

1. Welcome and introductions

CAS opened the meeting and welcomed participants.

2. Note of previous meeting and action log

CAS advised of the following amendments to the note of the previous meeting:

Item 6: CAS asked whether the messaging campaign Shelter Scotland and Police Scotland did previously meant tenants were well informed that criminal matter. Police Scotland advised that happy to consider refreshed advertising on social media channels, etc.

Item 7: CAS advised concerns about students and those that had employment but now lost their job.  SG advised key support due to Covid has been on existing homelessness and rough sleepers.  CAS asked if students would be eligible for the THLF?

Action log:

Action 12 Landlord Register stats: Please see update below:

2020

New % change *

Renew % change **

March

-25

5

April

-56

-10

May

-56

-19

June

-30

-1

July

-21

-20

Aug

-18

-21

Sept

2

-16

* new applications compared with 2019

** renewals are on a 3 year cycle but these figure are compared to 2019

The table shows initial drop in new applications and down in April and May but has slowly climbed up.  September has increased by 2% and figures for October (not included in table) has 6% uplift.  Overall the last 6/7 months were down 20/25%.    Renewals stayed pretty similar as well.

Action 107 discussion with Minister: will update the group asap

Action 111 DHP: North Ayrshire wouldn’t specifically pay DHP for rent arrears but may backdate the award which would then cover arrears.  The average time for processing DHP applications is between 7 – 10 days but for UC cases may be longer as cannot award until confirmation of UC details.

Action 113 HMO Licences: SAL advised interested in new applications rather than renewals

NAC update: colleagues haven’t received any information from landlords about having difficulty letting out rooms within HMO’s due to the restrictions.  However, we have very few HMOs and the ones we do have are Hotel staff accommodation, places of refuge and hostels, not many would be classified as private business ventures.

Dundee: Inspecting new properties with no tenants, not inspecting any new properties with tenants

Edinburgh: will check with colleagues for new HMO licences

ALACHO: will provide an update

3. Updates

Tenant Hardship Loan Fund

SG advised moving forward with work to develop the loan.  The IT developer is currently building the website and getting the application portal set up.   The launch date is 7 December.  Currently exploring the possibility of having a holding page to provide information on the loan and the ability to register in advance.  The application process will not be based on a referral system.  The loan will have gatekeeping points throughout the application process and point them to advice and support throughout the process. There is verification stage for landlords so they will need to be aware that this loan exists and this will need to be considered at the comms stage. Additional information is currently being added to the Introductory Narrative on the terms and eligibility for the loan.  This will be circulated to the resilience groups once expanded. CAS, Shelter Scotland and COSLA are going to discuss the narrative and feedback to SG.

Action 114: Please inform SG of any specific signposting which could be included and with any comments on the narrative, comms plan or any other feedback.

SG/COSLA DHP discussions

SG DHP team members recently attended LAHRG meeting.  SG also had a couple of meetings with individual councils as well.  This has provided useful feedback.  There is a big difference between turnaround in DHP and UC.  DHP is generally used to sustain tenancies and looking forward rather than for arrears.  SG are currently exploring different options to overcome barriers.

Discussion:

  • Low uptake on DHPs – not uptake as expected when supposed to be the one way to prevent homelessness. 
  • Concerned that some LAs don’t use DHP for rent arrears at all
  • Clarity is required on how DHPs are supporting people? 
  • Signposting people to DHPs – as people flagged for Scottish choice to flag don’t forget DHP exisits.  More ways to make sure people are signposted to DHPs
  • Could SG and COSLA encourage LAs to make DHP available for arrears?  Is that possible? 
  • Data gap - Need to understand more about what is going on, what demand? basis of decisions being made, types of cases?
  • How best support tenants as DHP can be really complicated? 
  • Need to look at what else can do outwith DHP as potentially not find a solution through DHP – how overcome these challenges – what else can be done?
  • Could SG look at afresh to see what else can be done rather than DHP and loan fund
  • COSLA have information gathered from the key questions from the DHP meeting at LAHRG

Action 115:  COSLA will share the information on DHP from the LAHRG meeting

Action 116: SG will draft action paper on DHP and share with group and discuss further at next meeting

Short Term Lets

The Short Term Lets regulations are coming into force in spring 2021.  The consultation closed on 16 October and received over 1000 responses which the team is working through just now.

Action 117: SG will check with team whether another consultation is planned before Spring and provide timelines for the next stages.

4. Group Discussion: First-tier Tribunal (Housing and Property Chamber)

Tribunal has been dealing with more hearings, some video as well as audio, which has been going well as no travel is involved so able to hear more cases. Still dealing with older cases, rather than related to Covid, although with furlough now extended to March that should help. The Tribunal is working on their annual report which will provide more information on cases and caseload.

Discussion:

  • CAS aware that 30 eviction orders were granted last month.
  • Data from CAS shows that 1 in 4 are concerned about rent – hard to quantify what going on across the nation – how else gather data?
  • Would be useful to have information about rents charged in the private sector
  • The Pre-Action Requirements will be evaluated at end of the emergency period
  • Members commented would be helpful to have more data from Tribunal to give trends
  • What resilience planning in place with LAs over the winter?
  • Important to know trigger points and impact on homelessness. Section 11 notice is issued and this gives four months before evicted – would be useful to get more data on this as gives good indicator of what will happen.
  • Minister wrote on 5 November to not enforce any evictions where level 3 or 4 tiers, except in exceptional circumstances. 
  • The SMASO website was updated on 6 November.
  • Shelter Scotland shared the following report.   
  • CaCHE are conducting research into the PRS system across the UK
  • Rent Better are publishing a report tomorrow on the impact of private rented sector tenancy reform in Scotland funded by Nationwide Foundation. 

Action 118: COSLA will update on resilience planning in place with LAs over the winter

Action 119: ALACHO will ask members about the volume of section 11 notices

Action 120: Ask First-tier Tribunal if possible to attend future meeting

5. No Recourse to Public Funds

No Recourse to Public Funds was discussed at the last meeting and is much broader than asylum as also applies to non‑EEA nationals. 

Does SG have any information on possible support for those who are not asylum seekers?

UK Government has new rules regarding rough sleepers and if asylum seeker and NRPF then can be taken out of the country.  Shelter Scotland are asking for this to be changed and the restrictions lifted.

Action 121:  SG will check with colleagues whether any information on possible support for those who are not asylum seekers.

6. Group Terms of Reference and membership recommendations

No further comments were received so the ToR can be finalised and published in due course alongside the notes.

Discussion on Membership:

  • Consider our own representation in this group in first place before add other members
  • Consider the size of the group and how can contribute
  • Invite long term additional members?  Or ongoing consultation and joining as required? Could feed in as and when – give them option as how they feed in
  • Representatives from other organisations such as tenants voices, disabled representatives,  black and ethnic minority - could contacting BEMIS to see if they know of any organisation that might want to attend
  • Ask other LAs to join the group?
  • is something additional required in our TOR regarding equality issues?
  • stronger links between the resilience groups to enhance representation across them all
  • add as commitment by the group to consider membership in the ToR

7. Date and time of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Monday 23 November from 2pm until 4pm.