Scotland's Sustainable Housing Strategy

Strategy setting out our vision for warm, high quality, affordable, low carbon homes and a housing sector that helps to establish a successful low carbon economy.

4. The role of Standards

The outcome we want to see:

People value and take responsibility for the condition and energy efficiency of their homes, with an appropriate role for standards.

For people to live in warm, high quality, affordable, low carbon homes by 2030 we need to act to improve both the physical condition and the energy efficiency of housing, including the use of regulation and enforcement powers.

4.1 Consultation position

Key issues on which we sought views included:

  • Should there be a single condition standard across all tenures of housing?
  • Should existing powers available to local authorities, which allow them to require owners to repair their properties, be enhanced? Should they be extended so that local authorities can require improvements in the same way they can require repairs?
  • What should be the role of regulation of energy efficiency in private sector housing and the provision of incentives?
  • If, how and when should regulation be introduced?

The consultation also acknowledged parallel work to develop a new energy efficiency standard for social housing ( EESSH), beyond that to be achieved as part of the Scottish Housing Quality Standard ( SHQS) by 2015 and that energy standards are already part of building regulations for new build houses.

4.2 Consultation responses

There was majority support for consideration of a minimum condition standard beyond the tolerable standard, with slightly less support for a minimum energy efficiency standard for private sector housing 7 . Many responding organisations, however, were concerned about the practicalities of enforcement - who would enforce and their capacity to do so. There was also particular concern, in relation to an energy efficiency standard, about its potential effect on the owner-occupied sector where conditions applied at the point of sale might depress house sales.

Rather than mandatory standards, many expressed a preference for incentives such as rebates on council tax and Land and Buildings Transaction Tax ( LBTT) allied to promotion of a better appreciation of energy efficiency through information campaigns, improved guidance on technical solutions, and monitoring the success of improvement programmes.

4.3 Actions

House Condition

  • We will work with the Scottish Housing Regulator to monitor progress of social landlords to ensure that all their properties meet the SHQS by 2015.
  • Scottish Ministers will consider whether it is appropriate to amend local authorities' existing powers, which enable them to require owners to repair their houses, as part of the Housing Bill proposed for introduction around the middle of the current Parliamentary session.
  • We will develop proposals by end 2013 for a working group/forum to consider whether a single condition standard should be applied across all tenures.
  • We will encourage homeowners in mixed tenure and shared ownership properties to work together to improve and maintain their properties to the set condition standards.
  • We will continue to support demand led training through our national training programmes, further and higher education programmes and our Low Carbon Skills Fund to ensure that employers have the skilled and competent workforce needed to meet current and future standards.

Energy efficiency

  • We will publish a new Energy Efficiency Standard for existing Social Housing by Autumn 2013, with an expectation that landlords will meet the standard by 2020.
  • We have set up a working group to develop proposals for minimum energy efficiency standards in existing private sector housing, taking account of issues raised in the consultation.
  • We will consult on draft regulations for existing private housing by 2015, with a lead in time to the introduction of any regulation. We will seek the working group's views on potential timescales.


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