Glasgow: 0141 221 5562 Edinburgh: 0131 220 7660

Are you ready for the GDPR?

Are you ready for the GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force on 25th May 2018 replacing the Data Protection Act 1998. Every public and private organisation in the UK, including RSLs, will have to comply with the regulations which relate to how organisations process and handle personal data.

What are some of the main changes?

  • Notice of purpose of processing data

There will be an emphasis on giving notice prior to collecting personal data explaining exactly what you are doing with the data you are

Fair Rent appeal success for Housing Association Tenant

Fair Rent appeal success for Housing Association Tenant

Many housing associations still have a number of tenants who benefit from the protection of the Fair Rent regime. They are tenants who have been with the housing association since before 2nd January 1989 and have not moved home voluntarily since 30th September 2002.

When fixing a rent for one of these houses, housing associations must be aware that their decision on the rent can be appealed to the Rent Registration Officer and thereafter to the First-tier Tribunal (Housing and Property Chamber) ,

How should you contract with your subsidiary?

How should you contract with your subsidiary?

In the current economic climate, Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) are looking to make savings in their procurement processes in any way that they can. Many of our RSL clients have subsidiary companies which can carry out work on their behalf and for third parties. Where an RSL and its subsidiary are members of a VAT group, significant savings may be made. So how should you contract with your subsidiary?

Although a subsidiary is a separate entity and, as such, contracts between the parent and the

Will tenants be evicted for drugs convictions?

Will tenants be evicted for drugs convictions?

What can landlords do if they discover their property is being used for growing or supplying illegal drugs? Will tenants be automatically be evicted for drugs convictions? Surely if the tenant is convicted a landlord can expect to receive an order from the court allowing them to evict?

However, the case of Glasgow Housing Association v Stuart shows that landlords cannot merely rely on a drugs conviction in order to evict.

If a conviction isn't enough, then what is? Recent cases we have been involved

Innovative Housing Solution for Vulnerable Adult

Innovative Housing Solution for Vulnerable Adult

We were approached by a housing association client who wanted to help a vulnerable adult to remain living in his deceased parent?s home. Otherwise there would be no option but for the adult to go into care, leaving the home he was comfortable in.

The housing association agreed to purchase a share, just under 50%, of the property in question and entered into an Occupancy Agreement with both the Trustees under the late mother's Will Trust and also with the representatives of the son. This

What could 'Right to Rent' mean for Scotland?

What could 'Right to Rent' mean for Scotland?

IMMIGRATION CHECKS DO NOT YET APPLY TO LANDLORDS IN SCOTLAND! We previously blogged about the UK Immigration bill which proposed duties on landlords to carry out immigration checks on prospective tenants - essentially checking if someone has the right to rent.

The bill became law on 1st December 2014 in connection with premises located in specific local authorities in England. On 1st February 2016, the scheme was rolled out to the whole of England.

The UK Government now intends to roll out this

Procurement Strategy ? What RSLs Need to Know

Procurement Strategy ? What RSLs Need to Know

The Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 requires all public bodies (including RSLs) to publish a procurement strategy, where their expenditure on regulated procurements for the next financial year will be at least 5m. All eligible public bodies were required to publish their first strategy by 31 December 2016. Public bodies must also notify the Scottish Government of the publication of their strategies.

The Act provides for the matters which must be covered by a procurement strategy, which include:

  • Setting out how the public body will

Scottish Land Fund for Community Ownership in Scotland

Scottish Land Fund for Community Ownership in Scotland

On 22 April 2016, further legislation augmenting and transforming rights and responsibilities governing land ownership in Scotland entered into force. Furthering the Scottish Government's aim of bringing an intended million acres of land into community ownership, the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 makes further provisions designed to engage communities in decision making and facilitate community ownership. How can Scottish Land Fund help community ownership?

The Scottish Government have announced that the Scottish Land Fund will continue until 2020 and have trebled support to £10 million

Raising a Court Action: How Long Have I got?

Raising a Court Action: How Long Have I got?

In Scotland, prescription is the law that regulates the period in which parties can pursue claims. If I was raising a court action - how long have I got?

Most claims in law prescribe after five years, which means that a party wishing to make a claim after that five year period may be prohibited from successfully raising that claim.

There are certain other categories of claim to which specific periods apply, such as product liability, defamation and harassment.

The purpose of allowing this period

Brexit - the end of public procurement rules?

Brexit - the end of public procurement rules?

Following the recent signing of the CETA free trade deal between the EU and Canada, many are asking what the UK has in store in relation to trade and, specifically, public procurement rules, upon withdrawal from the EU.

The public procurement rules which apply in Scotland come from the EU Procurement Directive therefore, once the UK has left the EU, does this mean the end for public procurement law in this country?

The possible scenarios for the UK?s exit from the EU include:

  • The Norway

Judicial Review - A Year on from the Changes

Judicial Review - A Year on from the Changes

There were three significant changes to Judicial Review procedures brought in to effect by the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014. The 2014 Act made provision for wide-ranging reforms to the Scottish civil courts system in Scotland, as well as important reforms to the court procedure associated with judicial review in relation to time bar, permission to raise Judicial Review proceedings and the requirement to "front load" applications for Judicial Review.

Time bar

It is now a requirement that applications for judicial review are made

Does a Registered Social Landlord need a PSC Register?

Does a Registered Social Landlord need a PSC Register?

You may be aware of developments requiring all UK private companies, including companies limited by guarantee and UK LLPs, to keep a Person of Significant Control (PSC) Register.

This has been introduced by the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 to increase corporate transparency by creating a full picture of the ownership of businesses.

Registered Social Landlord (RSL) - Co-operative and Community Benefit Society

Most RSLs are societies registered under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 (formerly the Industrial and Provident Societies

Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 - the changes are coming!

Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 - the changes are coming!

It has been over two years since the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 was passed by the Scottish parliament.

This Act proposes to introduce significant changes in many areas of housing management and practice for registered social landlords.

It would now appear that the implementation of the various proposals will commence this year.

Draft versions of guidance on the following topics will be available towards the end of June (edit September 2016: guidance not yet issued but should follow at some point this year).

  • Legal Framework

Plans and mapping requirements under the 2012 Act ? what you need to know?

Plans and mapping requirements under the 2012 Act ? what you need to know?

The Scottish Government are anxious to ensure that all Scottish property is mapped on the Land Register as soon as possible. Mapping requirements are at the heart of the 2012 legislation. A cadastral map: a single unified map of all registered property in Scotland based on the ordinance survey map is being prepared.? However, accurate plotting is not always straight forward.? Old Title Deeds often have inadequate plans and for some the written description makes it difficult to plot the subjects described against physical

All change in public procurement law

All change in public procurement law

There have been a flurry of new developments in public procurement law in Scotland and we have provided a brief summary of these below. Please watch this space for further detail and more commentary on the changes!

1. Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015

The 2015 regulations were published on 22 December and are due to come into force on 18 April 2016. They will replace the existing 2012 regulations and are intended to transpose the new EU directive on public procurement into Scots law. These

Statutory Guidance on the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 published

Statutory Guidance on the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 published

The Scottish Government has issued the first of its statutory guidance under the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 (the Act), which addresses fair work practices in procurement. The guidance applies to all regulated procurements which commence on or after 1 November this year. A few provisions of the Act which are relevant to the guidance came into force on 28 September, including Section 2 which defines a 'regulated procurement' as any procedure carried out by a public body in relation to the award of a

Changes to bankruptcy procedure

Changes to bankruptcy procedure

The recent Bankruptcy and Debt Advice (Scotland) Act 2014 came into force on 1st April 2015 and has brought about important changes to the way debts can be enforced. We look in particular at two changes to bankruptcy procedure below:

Moratorium on Diligence

Prior to 1 April 2015, a person with debts could only receive protection from creditors once they were sequestrated, had a Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS) in place or a protected trust deed. The 2014 Act now gives the debtor an additional

Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations ? What RSLs need to do

Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations ? What RSLs need to do

In June 2014 the Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC) confirmed that the Environmental Information Scotland Regulations applied to Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) based on the level of supervision/direction exercised by the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) and RSLs responsibilities to providing/managing etc. social housing including the requirements of the Social Housing Charter, SHQS and EESH in matters such as noise, energy efficiency, heating installation, and use of appropriate building materials.

The decision was challenged earlier this year but was again upheld by SIC. Accordingly like local and

Awarding a Public Contract- What Happens Next?

Awarding a Public Contract-  What Happens Next?

Registered Social Landlords are ?contracting authorities? for the purposes of the Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2012. When awarding a public contract - what happens next? The Regulations apply to:

- works contracts with a value of ?4,322,012 or more;

- supplies and services contracts with a value of ?172,514 or more.

Contracting authorities must ensure that when advertising public contracts in excess of these thresholds, evaluating bids and selecting the successful party, they follow the rules set out in the Regulations.

Having identified a contractual

Eviction appeals are not second chances

Eviction appeals are not second chances

In January 2015, Sheriff Wood heard three rent arrear actions in which clients sought decree for eviction, payment and expenses. Despite the tenants being represented and submitting various explanations for non-payment, Sheriff Wood was satisfied that it was reasonable to grant decree in all three cases. All three cases were appealed to the Sheriff Principal. Here is why eviction appeals are not second chances!

Glasgow West Housing Association Ltd v Danuta Harasimowicz, was one of the cases appealed to the Sheriff Principal and concerned the

The CDM Regulations 2015 are now in force

The CDM Regulations 2015 are now in force

The Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations 2015 came into force on 6 April and replace the 2007 Regulations. They govern health and safety in construction projects. Some of the main changes affecting ?clients? who are commissioning construction work are:

  1. Clients? duties

The client must make suitable arrangements for managing a project which ensure that construction work will be carried out without risk to the health or safety of any person affected by the project. The management arrangements must include how clients will ensure that

Scottish Government consultation on changes to procurement rules

Scottish Government consultation on changes to procurement rules

On 9 February 2015 the Scottish Government launched their consultation on proposed changes to procurement rules. The changes are coming about as a result of a new European procurement directive and the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014.

The Scottish Government has until 18 April 2016 to transpose the provisions of the directive into Scots law, and this will result in the creation of new procurement regulations. These regulations will also comprise further provisions and guidance on the terms of the 2014 Act.

So what are

Can you evict a drug dealing tenant?

Can you evict a drug dealing tenant?

One of the most significant changes being proposed under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 is the removal of the "reasonableness" defence where a landlord seeks eviction based on the tenant being the subject of a conviction in respect of a criminal offence committed in or in the locality of the tenancy. How difficult will it be to evict a drug dealing tenant?

Many eviction actions have been raised using this ground, mainly in connection with offences relating to illegal drugs.

Many Registered Social Landlords (RSLs)

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax - Update on Leases

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax -  Update on Leases

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) is a charge on land transactions in Scotland. It is accepted that LBTT will replace Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) in Scotland for most land transactions with an effective date of on or after 1 April 2015.

LBTT will make significant changes to the way returns are completed for commercial lease transactions including Assignations (no LBTT is be payable on standard residential leases). New rules regarding notification will be introduced alongside new rates of tax linked more closely to

The Freedom of Information Act is 10 years old!

The Freedom of Information Act is 10 years old!

The Freedom of Information (?FOI?) (Scotland) Act 2002 came into force on 1 January 2005 and creates an entitlement to receive information held by a public authority upon request. The Act applies to public bodies including the Scottish Government and local authorities. However, the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act have never been extended to housing associations.

The Scottish Information Commissioner has recently called for the Act to be extended to cover those bodies which are responsible for social housing. In the Commissioner?s Report,

Refuse a Right to Buy application

Refuse a Right to Buy application

The Right to Buy (RTB) process is littered with various time limits which are all too familiar to landlords. However, it seems to be that some landlords are willing to run the risk of losing stock through the Right to Buy when they don't necessarily have to. So can housing associations refuse a Right to Buy application?

There are noted cases where tenants who, had the landlords acted timeously, would not have been entitled to buy their rented property.

When an application is received under

The Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 and RSLs

The Housing Scotland Act 2014 has now completed its passage through the Scottish Parliament. Royal Assent was granted on 1 August 2014.

This Act will introduce significant changes to the rules which govern tenancies in the public sector in Scotland. Two parts have direct effect on social housing.

Part 1 of the Act will lead to the complete abolition of the Right to Buy. We expect abolition to be effective on 1 August 2016.

Part 2 of the Act will include the following amendments to

Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 and RSLs

The new Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 ('the 2014 Act') came into force on 1 August 2014.

The 2014 Act affects some existing societies, and changes how new societies are registered by:-

  1. Replacing the 'industrial and provident society' legal form with two new legal forms:-
  • Co-operative society
  • Community benefit society
  1. Repealing and replacing previous industrial and provident society legislation including:
  • Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965 (including the 1967, 1975, 1978 and 2002 Acts)
  • Friendly and Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1968
  • Co-operative

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax in Scotland

The Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Scotland) Act 2013 (?LBTT Act?) might not sound exciting, but as the first tax Act to be passed by a Scottish Parliament in over 300 years it is certainly noteworthy for those with an interest in Scottish residential or commercial property.

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (?LBTT?) is one of two areas of taxation over which the Scottish Parliament has derived legislative competence from the Scotland Act 2012, the other being Landfill Tax. It is intended that LBTT replace

Bedroom Tax, the final chapter?

April 2013 saw the introduction of changes to housing benefit which were dubbed the ?bedroom tax?. Over the course of the last 14 months our blogs have provided information on the introduction of these rules, the challenges to them and the cases which have been decided by tribunals. So is this Bedroom Tax, the final chapter?

During the last year, the Scottish government complained that they were being prevented from dealing with the impact of the bedroom tax by the rules which affected Discretionary Housing

Public Procurement Changes in Scotland

In recent years there have been a number of public procurement changes in Scotland, most notably the introduction of the Procurement (Reform) Scotland Bill in October 2013 and three new EU Directives in February 2014.?Public procurement in the UK and the rest of the EU is governed by European Directives and Regulations which are then implemented into national law.

The three new EU Procurement Directives, which deal with public contracts, utilities contracts and concessions, will formally come into force on 17 April 2014. Member states

Does your tenancy agreement enable tenants to keep pets?

Does your tenancy agreement enable tenants to keep pets?

Does your tenancy agreement enable tenants to keep pets? In a case that attracted considerable media coverage, we were successful in a court action on behalf of one of our housing association clients which sought to remove pets from one of their tenant's properties.

We were instructed to raise the action as our clients were made aware that a tenant was keeping dogs in their property without notifying them.

Our client's tenancy agreement clearly states that tenants must obtain the prior consent from the landlord

Housing Bill ? changes to Short Scottish Secure Tenancies

The Housing Bill is proposing significant changes to the law relating to many aspects of social housing including Short Scottish Secure Tenancies.

One significant part of the Housing (Scotland) Bill deals with proposed changes to the regime of Short Scottish Secure Tenancies (SSSTs).

The Housing Bill proposes:

  • New grounds for creating SSSTs
  • New provision for converting SSTs to short SSTs
  • New rules on initial length of certain SSSTs
  • New rules on extending the initial period
  • New rules about eviction from certain SSSTs

New grounds for

Consumer Credit - What constitutes 'Credit' for housing associations?

Consumer Credit - What constitutes 'Credit' for housing associations?

The Consumer Credit Act 1974 (as amended by the Consumer Credit Act 2006) regulates consumer credit. This is an important area that Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) must be aware of when providing any form of credit to tenants.

What is any other form of financial accommodation

A consumer credit agreement is an agreement between an individual (the debtor) and any other person (the creditor) by which the creditor agrees to provide the debtor with credit. 'Credit' is defined in the Act as a cash loan,

Antisocial Behaviour Orders can help RSLs

In Scotland, if a Registered Social Landlord (RSL) have problematic tenants who regularly behave in an antisocial manner, they can make an application to court for Antisocial Behaviour Orders (ASBO) to be granted against tenants for the protection of neighbouring residents.

An ASBO is an order granted by the court and will contain specific conditions to stop a person from behaving in a particular manner or from carrying out specific actions. For example an ASBO may prohibit a person playing loud music at certain times

How can social landlords allocate housing from 2014

The recently published Housing (Scotland) Bill is proposing significant changes to how social landlords?can?allocate housing?.

Changes to the allocation rules are proposed to the following:

Reasonable preference

The Bill proposes a shorter applicant category list who must be given reasonable preference. Beyond these categories RSLs will have greater freedom to create groups they wish to house. Proposed categories are:

  • homeless persons who have ?unmet housing needs?
  • persons living in ?unsatisfactory housing conditions? who also have ?unmet housing needs?
  • tenants who are under occupying

Rules on

Consumer credit regulation for housing associations

In April 2014 regulation of consumer credit will be transferred from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to create a ?tougher and more pro-active? regulatory regime. The FCA will be granted greater powers to investigate and scrutinise, and will have a wider range of sanctions and penalties to impose. It is important for Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) to be aware of the changes in consumer credit regulation for housing associations?.

What do you need to know?

Many housing associations

The Scottish Housing Bill - what will this mean for RSLs?

On 21 November 2013, a new Scottish Housing Bill was introduced in the Scottish Parliament - what will this mean for RSLs?

It is a lengthy document extending to 86 sections. It is expected that this Bill will become law at some point in 2014.

If passed, the Bill will create significant changes in four main areas of housing law and practice.

1??? Right to Buy

  • Proposals to abolish the right to buy entirely. Abolition will take place three years after the Bill is passed.

Introduction of another Scottish Housing Bill

After much debate and a lot of discussion it would appear that we are now very close to the introduction of another Housing Bill in the Scottish Parliament.

This Bill is expected to propose a number of changes to the rules which govern tenancies in the public sector in Scotland. We expect the proposals in the Bill to cover almost every area of housing management law.

 

We anticipate the following proposals

  • Changes to the rules on ?reasonable preference? and priority in allocation of housing.

The Procurement Reform (Scotland) Bill is Introduced

The Procurement Reform Scotland Bill was introduced in the Scottish Parliament on 3 October 2013. Once it becomes law, the Act will exist alongside the current procurement regulations, but will make some fundamental changes in the way public contracts are procured in Scotland.

Some of the main changes are:

  • Increased regulation - supplies/services contracts with a value of ?50,000 or more and works contracts with a value of ?2,000,000 or more which are currently not covered by the procurement regulations are subject to the Bill;

Tribunal decisions made on bedroom tax appeals

The ?bedroom tax? remains a topic of intense debate and public interest. ?Recently we saw the first tribunal decisions relating to bedroom tax appeals by tenants and we have had the astonishing sight of a United Nations ?rapporteur? visiting Britain and suggesting that the bedroom tax may breach human rights.

A large protest also took place outside the Liberal Democrat party?s Scottish Conference and Baroness Shirley Williams admitted to the conference that this policy was a ?mistake?.

The tribunal decisions were issued in Kirkcaldy where

Procurement Regulations and Time-Barred Challenges

What do you know about procurement regulations and time barred challenges? The case of Nationwide Gritting Services Limited (NGS) against the Scottish Ministers sheds some light on the challenge timescales under procurement regulations, but unfortunately does little to provide comfort to contracting authorities embarking on procurement exercises.

The 2006 regulations outlined that court proceedings for a breach of those regulations must be brought within 3 months ?from the date when grounds for bringing proceedings first arose?. ??Under the new 2012 regulations, this is now 30

Property Factors Act ? the deadline is looming!!

For all of those Registered Social Landlords (RSLs)?who provide property management services, the deadline of 1st October 2013 to provide your factored owners with a written statement of service is drawing near.

Many?housing associations?have been working throughout the summer months preparing their bespoke written statement for issue. ?However some RSLs are still in a quandary as to whether or not they do indeed provide factoring services, what services they provide and what the costs of that service should be.

We have carried out thousands

Can landlords force access to a property?

Can landlords force access to a property?

Landlords, both private and social, may require access to one of their tenanted properties for a variety of different reasons. So, can landlords force access to a property?

Landlords have a general duty to repair and maintain properties throughout the duration of a tenancy and are legally obliged to comply with gas and electricity safety regulations so access may be necessary on occasion.

A landlord may also wish to carry out a general inspection to ascertain the current condition of the property or may wish

What does a Servitude mean in Scotland?

To most people the word servitude conjures images of slavery, although thankfully that way of life is long gone! In Scotland, however, a servitude is a right over a piece of land (the burdened property) for the benefit of another (the benefitted property). This longstanding concept is still very much relevant today.

What does that really mean?

A servitude can give someone else rights over your property. Conversely, it can give you rights over a property belonging to someone else. Common examples of servitudes include:

Ensure your factoring paperwork is legal

Ensure your factoring paperwork is legal

As a factor, how can you ensure your factoring paperwork is legal. Should you use deeds of conditions or a written statement of services?

The establishment of the Homeowner Housing Panel (HOHP), provides a forum for homeowners to challenge whether their property manager / factor has failed to carry out their factoring duties, or breached the Code of Conduct. The most important decision from the HOHP thus far can be found in a recent case brought by Mr Park against Hacking and Paterson  (the Factor).

Tenant Abandonment - what is an abandoned property?

We receive a number of queries from Registered Social Landlords on tenant abandonment, asking - what is an abandoned property? - and about the procedures involved for recovering possession of abandoned properties?

Section 17 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 states that a social landlord may commence proceedings to recover possession of a property if they have reasonable grounds for believing that -

  • The house is unoccupied, and
  • The tenant does not intend to occupy it as the tenant's home.

A landlord should make necessary

Green Deal in Scotland - is it any good?

Green Deal in Scotland - is it any good?

The Green Deal in Scotland encourages homeowners and tenants to introduce energy saving measures to their properties. It has been promoted as a solution to solving some of the problems which put off individuals financing energy saving improvements to their homes. 

When Green Deal finance has been obtained there is no requirement to repay the loan in the standard way, instead the money is recouped by the energy supplier by way of added charges to their energy bill. Another feature is that the obligation does

Scottish Housing Law ? More Changes Ahead

After a lengthy period of consultation, the Housing Minister used her speech at an?SFHA conference to announce that they had now concluded the consultation and announced the following changes will be included in a forthcoming Bill.

Changes that will:

  • Replace prescriptive and outdated priority groups with a broader framework that gives landlords and their communities more local flexibility
  • Allow landlords to consider any property that a social housing applicant already owns when allocating housing
  • Introduce a qualifying period before succession to a tenancy following the

Bedroom Tax - heads in the sand

Bedroom Tax - heads in the sand

Funny how you can stomach a rotten meal if you keep telling yourself it's not actually that bad. As the first witnesses to the Bedroom Tax Inquiry being held by the UK Parliament?s Scottish Affairs Committee last week, the SFHA's Mary Taylor and I couldn?t quite be sure what the Committee's approach would be. With five Labour MPs, three Conservative and two LibDem, would views stick to party lines, and in some cases did we even know what those lines were?

Well, it's good that

Page 2 of 4