Information

Tenant Information Packs: Analysis of Consultation Responses

An analysis of views expressed during the consultation on tenant information packs, including views on what information should be contained within the pack and how it should be presented and operate in practice.


1. INTRODUCTION

1.1 The private rented sector is playing an increasingly important role in the Scottish housing market, partly as a result of current constraints in accessing home ownership and social housing. The growth in private sector tenants is accompanied to some extent by a growth in first time landlords. For both landlords and tenants, information about landlord-tenant law and rights and responsibilities of both parties is essential to ensuring good relations and the operation of high standards in the sector. Whilst neither party wishes to be overloaded with complex documents, both will benefit from clear, accessible and up-to-date information on their rights and responsibilities.

1.2 A review of the private rented sector (March 2009[2]) highlighted pre-tenancy arrangements as an area which could be enhanced to promote tenants' knowledge about their rights and responsibilities. The review revealed that despite landlords explaining to tenants their rights and responsibilities at the start of their tenancy, many still did not understand these.

1.3 The Scottish Private Rented Sector Strategy Group established in October 2009 took forward recommendations from the review, focusing on pre-tenancy arrangements and tenants' knowledge of their rights and responsibilities. A public consultation on the proposed Housing Bill (March 2010) revealed strong support for the idea of an information pack for tenants[3]. The subsequent Private Rented Housing (Scotland) Act 2011 placed a duty on private landlords to provide new tenants with a Tenant Information Pack (TIP). Scottish Ministers were given powers to make regulations to specify the documents to be provided to tenants under an assured tenancy. Regulations may make further provision about the form and content of the documents.

1.4 A stakeholder working group involving key public sector, consumer and professional bodies considered options for the introduction of the TIP and concluded that the pack should consist of a booklet accompanied by a covering checklist, both easily accessible for download from the internet. Feedback from the 2010 consultation, discussion with the Scottish Private Rented Sector Strategy Group, and also discussions that took place in the Scottish Parliament during the passage of the Private Rented Housing (Scotland) Bill were taken into account in developing a draft TIP.

1.5 The Scottish Government wished to seek views more widely on the draft TIP.[4] It consulted in 3 different ways:

  • A consultation document containing details of the TIP including its proposed content and checklist was published on 27 February 2012 with views requested by 21 May 2012. The consultation document sought views on 3 areas:
    • What information should be contained within a pack.
    • What the pack should look like.
    • How it should operate in practice.
  • 3 focus groups were run with tenants, student tenants and small landlords (each with 3 or fewer tenancies).
  • In-depth telephone interviews were conducted with 5 larger landlords (with at least 10 tenancies each) and 5 private letting agents.

The focus groups were held in urban, semi-urban and rural locations. Larger landlords and letting agents across the central belt and in rural communities were included amongst the interviewees.

Written consultation responses

1.6 Eighty responses to the consultation were submitted and analysed.[5] These responses will be published on the Scottish Government website unless the respondent has specifically requested otherwise. Sixty-seven responses (84%) were submitted by organisations, with 13 (16%) submissions from individuals. Table 1 shows the numbers of responses by category of respondent. 24 local authority responses were received representing 30% of the overall submissions. The full list of the organisations responding to the consultation is in Annex 1.

Table 1: Respondents by category[6]

Category Abbreviation used in report Number Percentage %
Local Authority LA 24 30
Representative bodies Rep 13 16
Agent Agent 9 11
Landlord Landlord 6 8
Voluntary organisation Vol 4 5
Fire and rescue body Fire 3 4
Legal body Legal 2 3
Housing Association HA 1 1
Landlord and agent L/A 1 1
Other Oth 4 5
Total organisations 67 84
Individual Ind 13 16
Total 80 100

1.10 An electronic database was used to collate the written responses to assist analysis. This database stored free text in a systematic manner whilst providing the flexibility for amendments as the work progressed. The fields used to record the material were based on questions used in the consultation document. A qualitative approach to analysing the responses was undertaken on account of the relatively small number of responses and the open-ended nature of the questions posed.

1.11 The focus group and interview schedules were based around the written consultation questions. Discussion was audio-recorded and tapes transcribed to facilitate in-depth analysis.

Report of findings

1.12 The following 7 chapters document the substance of the analysis. Part 1 of the report (Chapters 2 - 5) focuses on the draft content of the pack. Part 2 (Chapters 6 - 8) refers to what the pack should look like and how it will work in practice.

1.13 Where quotes or specific views are attributed to their source, italics are used to signify views generated in the written consultation, with normal typeface used for views arising in focus groups and interviews.

Contact

Email: Alix Rosenberg

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