Grounds for Offering an SSST
There are presently 9 grounds on which a Registered Social Landlord may offer a prospective new tenant an SSST (a short Scottish secure tenancy). One of those grounds is that the property is to be let on a temporary basis to a person who is in receipt of a housing support service. This ground can only be relied on where none of the other grounds apply. It is also important to note that this ground cannot be relied on where the tenant simply requires housing support services. Instead, the tenant must already be in receipt of the services.
Housing Support Services
Housing support services includes any service which provides support, assistance, advice or counselling to an individual with particular needs with a view to enabling that individual to occupy, or to continue to occupy, the tenancy as their sole or principal residential accommodation.
There are also Regulations which outline certain prescribed services which are classed as housing support services. These include:
- General counselling and support including befriending, advising on food preparation, reminding and non-specialist counselling where this does not overlap with similar services provided as personal care or personal support
- Assisting with the security of the dwelling required because of the needs of the service user
- Assisting with the maintenance of the safety of the dwelling
- Advising and supervising service users on the use of domestic equipment and appliances
- Providing life skills training in maintaining the dwelling and curtilage in appropriate condition
- Assisting the service user to engage with individuals, professionals and other bodies with an interest in the welfare of the service user
- Advising or assisting the service user with personal budgeting and debt counselling
Creating the SSST
In order to create an short Scottish secure tenancy from the outset, a Section 34 Notice must be served on the tenant before they sign the SSST.
The Section 34 Notice is a form prescribed by regulations. Therefore, this should be a strictly 'fill in the blanks' exercise. The Notice should not deviate from the form prescribed.
Once the tenant has been served with the Section 34 Notice, they may sign the SSST.
The SSST must be for an initial term of at least 6 months and then should ordinarily continue on a monthly basis thereafter. This needs to be specified on the SSST itself.
If the SSST is being offered on anti-social grounds, or is being converted from an existing SSST on anti-social grounds, the position is quite different. In those circumstances, the SSST must be for a term of at least 12 months. Thereafter, it can be extended for a period of 6 months or it must convert back to an SST.
Therefore, it is important to distinguish between the grounds on which the SSST is being offered.
Ending the SSST
In order to end the SSST, a Section 36 Notice must be served on the tenant. The Section 36 Notice is, again, a form prescribed by regulations. It is important to note that there are 2 separate Section 36 Notices which can be used - one to terminate SSSTs offered on anti-social grounds, and one for all other SSSTS. An SSST offered on housing support services grounds would require the non anti-social Section 36 Notice for termination. A separate Notice to Quit also requires to be served and this is best done at the same time as the Section 36 Notice.
The Section 36 Notice must be served at least 2 months before the end of the term of the tenancy. If you are looking to terminate the tenancy at the end of the initial 6 month period, therefore, the Notices will need served in Month 4. The live date on the Section 36 Notice must coincide with the tenancy ish.
The changes in the 2014 Act also introduced the right to raise proceedings at any time during the tenancy on the basis of Section 14. This would involve a Notice of Proceedings (NOP) being served and any of the usual SST grounds for termination being relied on.
Both a Section 36 Notice and an NOP will expire after a period of 6 months.
If you would like any advice in relation to offering short Scottish secure tenancies, please contact a member of our social housing team.