Housing supply and quality assurance of housing
The order in which homes are allocated between different categories of providers will need to be flexible to accommodate the needs of displaced persons (e.g. where local connections to particular local authority areas are a factor), and to allow local authorities to best manage locational pressures on services such as health and education. We are working on the basis that the options to accommodate displaced persons will be decided locally to ensure the best outcomes for our guests. People will be supported to be resettled into the first accommodation offer made available to them to ensure that local authorities can immediately begin the integration work required to help them adapt to their temporary home.
We expect local authorities to work with the matching system by providing property offers from across different tenures including social housing where available, private rentals and Homes for Ukraine stock in their area where hosts have agreed to use the Super Sponsor route to arrange their match.
Short-term let licensing scheme
From 1 October 2022, local authorities are required to have licensing schemes established in their areas for all short-term lets in Scotland. Accommodation used to host displaced persons would not be considered a short-term let, as the accommodation would be their only or principal home.
Where existing short-term let accommodation is used to host displaced persons, and the host intends to revert to use as a short-term let at some point after 1 October 2022, they must submit an application for a short-term let licence. Local authorities may wish to consider encouraging those hosts to make an application for a short-term let licence prior to 1 April 2023, in order for them to continue operating whilst their application is determined.
Applications for a short-term let licence from new operators (submitted after 1 October 2022) or existing operators (submitted after 1 April 2023) will be treated as a new application, and the host cannot take bookings or receive guests until the licence application has been granted. Further information can be found on at: Short-term lets: regulation information
Quality assurance of housing supply
Established rental routes such as the Private or Social rented sectors are governed by existing regulation but the occupancy arrangement in these circumstances is not considered to constitute a tenancy as no rent is being paid. Accordingly, the repairing standard in the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 will not apply but the tolerable standard set out in the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 will apply. We would therefore expect the properties being offered for matching to be compliant with the tolerable standard.
Where local authorities are assisting hosts to match to guests from the Homes for Ukraine stock we will require them to carry out the checks set out above under “Checks”. In addition to assist with the matching process we think it would be helpful to use the visit to the property to confirm useful matching information such as wheelchair access which would be provided as standard through the established Property Offer route
A draft checklist for the assessment and reporting is attached as a supporting document to this guide.
The above process would support mutual aid arrangements if required, on the basis that the same checks were being undertaken in each council area.
To ensure this work can be prioritised to meet need, it has been agreed that local authorities can, if they consider it necessary, pause non-priority areas of work for a period of time.
Local authorities also can prioritise housing quality assurance checks to make the assessment process as efficient as possible. They will have information from the host, their own records and other publicly available data to enable higher priority offers to be identified.
Local authorities can consider known information on the property such as:
- type and size of property offer
- housing standard (complaints/water results/etc.)
- any indication as to whether it is currently used for private rented sector, has a HMO licence or is a holiday let (how advertised)
- how is it being made available? (is the owner moving in with family to make available?)
- if the property was bought within the last 3 years and if a home report is available
- likely access to local amenities and services, e.g. healthcare, transport, retail facilities, etc
Local authorities could prioritise visits based on a triage process along the following lines:
- guests are already in the property
- offer involves an entire property
- multiple rooms are being offered, which may potentially be suitable for hosting a family group
- host property located is in an area with ready access to amenities and services. Local resettlement team should be able to help identify local areas with current pressures on services
- existing records indicate no known issues with housing condition
Properties with known issues receive the lowest priority for physical visit.
Before occupancy of a property, local authorities must ensure that:
- the safety of gas and electrical supplies and appliances are checked (more information on this is provided below)
- there is adequate heating (space and water heating)
- sanitary facilities are in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order
- the property is wind and water tight – which means no rising or penetrating damp
- there are Interlinked Alarms (smoke, heat and carbon monoxide) - Where there are no interlinked alarms due to supply issues, ensure the property has a single point of detection and that there is a plan for when interlinked alarms will be fully installed
- there are washing and cooking facilities
The schemes require an in-person check of the host property. Follow up can be done by electronic means when appropriate and where it will provide sufficient verification an item has been remedied. Some items could also be checked when the local authority resettlement team visit when the guests arrive.
Gas and electrical supplies and appliances
Gas supplies and appliances in homes provided for displaced people from Ukraine should be in good working order and safe to use. For this it is sufficient for hosts to confirm that there has been a boiler check or service carried out within the previous year. Any safety defects noted at the service should be resolved before accepting the offer of the host property. As the occupancy arrangement under which the host occupies the property is not a tenancy, the obligations on landlords to conduct gas safety checks will not apply. However, if the host themselves is a tenant under a tenancy agreement, there is a legal requirement for the host’s landlord to ensure that a gas safety check is completed by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
The electricity supply in the property must be adequate and safe to use in accordance with the tolerable standard. In relation to checking the safety of electrical supplies and appliances, a basic visual check under paragraphs 14.21-22 of the Tolerable Standard guidance is required. An Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) is not essential in this instance, however if the host themselves is a tenant under a tenancy agreement, there is a legal requirement on the host’s landlord for an EICR to be completed by a qualified electrician.
Private water supplies
For properties with a private water supply, housing quality checks need to consider the adequacy and wholesomeness of the supply. For properties where the supply is known to comply with the standards in the relevant regulations and there are no known issues with the supply running dry, the supply can be considered to be suitable.
Private water supplies will be considered unsuitable for inclusion where the supply is untreated, has a boil water notice, is known not to meet the requirements of the relevant regulations, or the supply is known to run dry under certain conditions.
Treated supplies should be tested as part of the checking process, where no sample result within the last 12 months is available, to give information on the wholesomeness of the water. The property would not be passed as satisfactory until the water sample indicates compliance with the legislative standards for the supply type.
Local authorities should use local knowledge and any available information when considering the suitability of a supply and if there are concerns over the wholesomeness or adequacy of the supply, then the property should not be considered as suitable for inclusion.
The cost of sampling will be covered by the local authority from the funding provided by the Scottish Government for the hosting schemes. Only the cost of the screen sample would be covered and the funding cannot be used for any remedial work to the supply. The homeowner should not be expected to pay for a screening sample as part of the housing quality assurance check process.
Where testing highlights issues with the water quality the home owner should be directed to the existing grant system for assistance with any remedial action required.
Residential caravan sites can be used, where the site is licenced for all year round operation and the mobile home (static caravan) is in a suitable condition. The mobile home would need to be visited to meet the in-person property check requirement of the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
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