Scottish Social Housing Charter November 2022

The Charter helps to improve the quality and value of services provided by social landlords in Scotland. It sets the standards and outcomes that all social landlords should aim to achieve when performing their housing activities.

Charter outcomes and standards

The customer/landlord relationship

1: Equalities

Social landlords perform all aspects of their housing services so that:

  • they support the right to adequate housing
  • every tenant and other customer has their individual needs and rights recognised, is treated fairly and with respect, and receives fair access to housing and housing services.

This outcome describes what social landlords, by meeting their statutory duties on equalities should achieve for all tenants and other customers regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation. This includes the need to eliminate discrimination and advance equality of opportunity. It includes landlords' responsibility for finding ways of understanding the rights and needs of different customers, for example victims/survivors of domestic abuse and delivering services that recognise and meet these. This may include making reasonable adjustments.

2: Communication

Social landlords manage their businesses so that:

  • tenants and other customers find it easy to communicate with their landlord and get the information they need about their landlord, how and why it makes decisions and the services it provides.

This outcome covers all aspects of landlords' communication with tenants

and other customers. This includes using a range of non-digital and digital communications in accessible formats that meet individual needs. It also covers making it easy for tenants and other customers to make complaints and provide feedback on services, using that information to improve services and performance, and letting people know what they have done in response to complaints and feedback. It does not require landlords to provide legally protected, personal or commercial information.

3: Participation

Social landlords manage their businesses so that:

  • tenants and other customers are offered a range of opportunities that make it easy for them to participate in, and influence their landlord's decisions at a level they feel comfortable with.

This outcome describes what landlords should achieve by meeting their statutory duties on tenant participation. It covers how social landlords gather and take account of the views and priorities of their tenants, other customers, and bodies representing them such as registered tenant organisations; how they shape their services to reflect these views; and how they help tenants and, other customers to become more capable of involvement – this could include supporting them to scrutinise landlord services.

4: Quality of Housing

Social landlords manage their businesses so that:

  • tenants' homes, as a minimum, when they are allocated are always clean, tidy and in a good state of repair, meet the Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS), and any other building quality standard in place throughout the tenancy; and also meet the relevant Energy Efficiency and Zero Emission Heat Standard.

These standards describe what landlords achieve in all their properties. They cover all properties that social landlords let, unless a particular property does not have to meet part of the standard.

If, for social or technical reasons, landlords cannot meet any part of these standards, they should regularly review the situation and ensure they make improvements as soon as possible.

5: Repairs, Maintenance and Improvements

Social landlords manage their businesses so that:

  • tenants' homes are well maintained, with repairs and improvements carried out when required, and tenants are given reasonable choices about when work is done.

This outcome describes how landlords should meet their statutory duties on repairs and provide repairs, maintenance and improvement services that safeguard the value of their assets and take account of the wishes and preferences of their tenants. This could include setting repair priorities and timescales; setting repair standards such as getting repairs done right, on time, first time; and assessing tenant satisfaction with the quality of the services they receive.

6: Estate Management, Anti-Social Behaviour, Neighbour Nuisance And Tenancy Disputes

Social landlords, working in partnership with other agencies, help to ensure as far as reasonably possible that:

  • tenants and other customers live in well-maintained neighbourhoods where they feel safe.

This outcome covers a range of actions that social landlords can take on their own and in partnership with others. It covers support for victims/survivors of domestic abuse, action to enforce tenancy conditions on estate management and neighbour nuisance, resolving neighbour disputes, and arranging or providing tenancy support where this is needed. It also covers the role of landlords in working with others to tackle anti-social behaviour.

7/8/9: Housing Options

Social landlords work together to ensure that:

  • people looking for housing get information that helps them make informed choices and decisions about the range of housing options available to them
  • tenants and people on housing lists can review their housing options.

Social landlords have a role to prevent homelessness and should ensure that:

  • people at risk of losing their homes get advice and information on preventing homelessness.

These outcomes cover landlords' duties to provide information to people looking for housing and advice for those at risk of becoming homeless so that homelessness is prevented as early as possible. This could include providing housing 'health checks' for tenants and people on housing lists to help them review their options to move within the social housing sector or to another sector.

10: Access to Social Housing

Social landlords ensure that:

  • people looking for housing find it easy to apply for the widest choice of social housing available and get the information they need on how the landlord allocates homes and on their prospects of being housed.

This outcome covers what social landlords can do to make it easy for people to apply for the widest choice of social housing that is available and suitable and that meets their needs. It includes actions that social landlords can take on their own and in partnership with others, for example through Common Housing Registers or mutual exchange schemes, or through local information and advice schemes.

11: Tenancy Sustainment

Social landlords ensure that:

  • tenants get the information they need on how to obtain support to remain in their home; and ensure suitable support is available, including services provided directly by the landlord and by other organisations.

This outcome covers how landlords on their own, or in partnership with others, can help tenants who may need support to maintain their tenancy. This includes tenants who may be at risk of falling into arrears with their rent, and tenants who may need their home adapted to cope with age, disability, health conditions or caring responsibilities.

12: Homeless People

Councils perform their duties on homelessness so that:

  • people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness get prompt and easy access to help, advice and information; are provided with suitable, good-quality temporary or emergency accommodation when this is needed; and are offered continuing support to help them get and keep the home they are entitled to.

This outcome describes what councils should achieve by meeting their statutory duties to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Social landlords should also have measures in place to prevent homelessness as early as possible.

13: Value For Money

Social landlords manage all aspects of their businesses so that:

  • tenants, owners and other customers receive services that provide continually improving value for the rent and other charges they pay.

This outcome covers the efficient and effective management of services. It includes minimising the time houses are empty; managing arrears and all resources effectively; controlling costs; getting value out of contracts; giving better value for money by increasing the quality of services with minimum extra cost to tenants, owners and other customers; involving tenants and other customers in setting rents and service charges; and in monitoring and reviewing how landlords give value for money.

14/15: Rents and Service Charges

Social landlords set rents and service charges in consultation with their tenants and other customers so that:

  • a balance is struck between the level of services provided, the cost of the services, and how far current and prospective tenants and service users can afford them
  • tenants get clear information on how rent and other money is spent, including details of any individual items of expenditure above thresholds agreed between landlords and tenants.

These outcomes reflect a landlord's legal duty to consult tenants about rent setting; the importance of taking account of what current and prospective tenants and other customers are likely to be able to afford; and the importance that many tenants place on being able to find out how their money is spent. For local councils, this includes meeting the Scottish Government's guidance on housing revenue accounts. Each landlord must decide, in discussion with tenants and other customers, whether to publish information about expenditure above a particular level, and in what form and detail. What matters is that discussions take place and the decisions made reflect the views of tenants and other customers.

Other customers

16: Gypsy/Travellers

Local councils and social landlords with responsibility for managing sites for Gypsy/Travellers should manage the sites so that:

  • sites are well maintained and managed and do not fall below the minimum site standards set in Scottish Government guidance.

This outcome includes actions landlords take to ensure that: their sites do not fall below the Scottish Government guidance on minimum standards for Gypsy/Traveller sites, and those living on such sites have occupancy agreements that reflect the rights and responsibilities set out in guidance.

All the standards and outcomes in the Charter apply to Gypsy/Travellers.



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