5. Scottish Housing Quality Standard
95. The Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS) is a minimum standard for all social housing in Scotland and was introduced in February 2004. In order to meet this standard a dwelling must meet 5 sets of broad criteria: compliant with the tolerable standard, free from disrepair, energy efficient, provided with modern facilities and services and healthy, safe and secure. A target was set for local authority landlords and registered social landlords to bring their housing stock up to the SHQS standard by April 2015.
96. Private owners and private landlords are currently under no obligation to bring their properties up to this standard. However SHCS collects the same data for all dwellings to allow comparison across the housing stock. Since 2012 this target has been incorporated in the Scottish Social Housing Charter and the performance of landlords has been monitored by the independent Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR).
97. The SHCS collects information on 54 out of all 55 elements comprising the SHQS requirements. This is done as part of the broader survey of the condition of the dwellings in the sample. When conducting the fieldwork, surveyors are not consciously making an assessment of SHQS compliance. Information on each of the 54 elements of SHQS is only a small part of the wide range of other information they collect. This information is subsequently collated independently into the 5 broad criteria and indicators of overall compliance by Scottish Government analysts. In this way the conclusions drawn from the fieldwork are kept independent of the data collections with a view to objectivity.
98. The SHQS guidance acknowledges that there may be situations where certain social rented properties could be exempted from meeting certain elements of the SHQS for technical or other reasons. An abeyance can be granted where it is technically feasible to make an upgrade but a social issue prevents the landlord from doing so. For example, a dwelling may be suitable to have CWI but the tenant refuses to allow the work to be done. The upgrade is expected to be carried out after the problem has been resolved or at change of tenancy.
99. An exemption can arise when a property is capable of meeting SHQS on a particular element but the landlord believes that it is not possible to meet it for technical, disproportionate cost or legal reasons. For example, a wall cavity is present but it is not possible/desirable to fill it for 'technical' reasons, such as too narrow to fill, poor access for work to take place, persistent exposure of walls to moisture.
100. The SHCS does not collect information on whether the landlord has asked for an abeyance or exemption for an element of the SHQS, and because of this the statistics from the SHCS do not take account of these. This means that SHCS statistics would overstate SHQS failure rates.
101. In the 2012 and 2013 data collections a small routing error in the questionnaire relating to tenure meant that a small number of dwellings could not be classified as part of the private or the social rented sector, as described in the 2013 Key Findings report. This was amended in 2014 and all dwellings in the survey can now be classified by tenure. This introduces a small inconsistency in the basis for the figures relating to the social sector in this report with years prior to 2014.
102. In addition, the 2014 Key Findings report introduced small corrections to the data processing relating to failure thresholds for the energy efficient criterion (energy efficiency rating and thickness of the hot water tank insulation); although the overall effect of these corrections on failure rates in the social sector were broadly neutral, some discontinuities with years prior to 2014 cannot be ruled out, when considering detailed breakdowns.
103. A minor error was identified in the method used to compile the data for the Energy Efficiency criterion in 2018. This also affected the overall SHQS failure rate for the year. Both have been revised in this 2019 publication. The correction reduces the 2018 energy efficient failure rate by 0.4 percentage points and the overall failure rate by 0.4 percentage points. The energy efficiency criterion failure rate for 2018 is therefore similar to 2017 rather than a statistically significant increase as reported previously. For the social sector, the correction reduces the 2018 energy efficient failure rate and the overall failure rate by 0.3 percentage points. For the private sector, the reduction for each is 0.5 percentage points.