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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

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

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.

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

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

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:

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

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

Home Owner Housing Panel in Scotland

The Home Owner Housing Panel (HoHp) was established by the Property Factors Act 2011 to act as a dispute resolution mechanism for problems between homeowners and their factors. The HoHp are now actively receiving complaints from homeowners alleging that their property manager has failed to meet their factoring duties or has failed to comply with the Property Factors' Code of Conduct which is set out in the Act.? Where a homeowner?s complaint cannot be resolved through the factor?s own complaints procedure a homeowner can make

Tenant eviction and the bedroom tax

Tenant eviction and the bedroom tax (or the ?spare room subsidy? if you?re a cabinet minister!) continue to dominate conversation in the housing world.

My blog last month put forward some ideas to minimise the impact of the changes to Housing Benefit which are now just two weeks away.

It also seems that the UK government are starting to get cold feet. Yesterday Ian Duncan Smith, the current Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, announced that guidance will be issued that will exempt foster

What is housing bond finance?

Housing bond finance is essentially a loan agreement used to provide financing for a borrower and income for a lender. Called a "security" because they have a fixed yield, bonds compel the borrower to pay interest on the amount of the loan. This is ?called the principal or par value.

The capital is normally paid in full by the borrower at maturity although some bonds do provide for repayment over the period of the loan agreement. Until maturity, the borrower makes interest payments to the

Housing Associations: How to follow the Golden Brick Road?

Housing Associations: How to follow the Golden Brick Road?

Golden brick is a familiar term to housing associations in relation to development sites and taxation but how will they follow the golden brick road? So, where Dorothy discovered the Wizard was simply an ordinary man, what will housing associations' discover if they pull back the curtain for golden brick?

What is Golden Brick?

Housing Associations (HAs) are not generally able to recover VAT on rented properties and have limited recovery prospects for shared ownership schemes. As a result they will always seek to

General Consent - Remember the Audit Trail

Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) will be aware of the need to obtain Section 107 consent from the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) prior to any disposal of land, unless the type of disposal is specifically exempted or is covered by General Consent.

General Consent will cover: -

  • Sale of land, untenanted social houses or other assets up to and including ?100,000
  • Sale of untenanted social houses to another RSL
  • Sale of untenanted houses, land or other assets to another RSL as part of a development agreement

Scotland?s Homeowner Housing Panel

?Better Dispute Resolution in Housing: Consultation on the Introduction of a New Housing Panel for Scotland?. ?A bit of a mouthful, but this is the title of the latest Government proposal for Scotland?s Homeowner Housing Panel which was published in January 2013.? The paper can be found by clicking here.

In very simple terms the government is inviting comment on its plan to change the way that housing disputes are resolved.

The consultation examines three principal options:

  • The expansion of mediation,?other forms

Winter is coming ? landlord's legal responsibilities

The Scottish Government?s ?get ready for winter? campaign has now started. What are a landlord's legal responsibilities to tenants in winter?

While the current weather is causing significant flooding problems, no doubt we will soon see the return of freezing weather which leads to many housing associations and landlords facing calls from tenants about frozen pipes. Many will also be concerned about what they have to do to keep footpaths clear of snow and ice. So what are the legal obligations of a landlord in

Housing Law Scotland - Legal Judgement

Housing Law Scotland - Legal Judgement

The Court of Session has probably just issued its most significant legal judgment in the field of housing law Scotland in the last twenty years.

In the case of South Lanarkshire Council v McKenna, the court had been asked to consider whether the entire regime of short Scottish secure tenancies set out under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 was compliant with the Human Rights legislation. They were asked to consider whether the rules on evictions on short Scottish secure tenancies were lawful and whether

Mid market rent for housing associations

Mid market rent (MMR) is aimed at providing people on modest incomes with an opportunity to access rented accommodation - does mid market rent for housing associations?work? Due to the Scottish Governments consultation outlined further on, more and more housing associations are considering mid market rent tenure in addition to the current options they provide to social tenants on lower incomes.

Grants to support the provision of mid market rent units are currently only available to non-charitable subsidiaries of housing associations as legislation:-

>?prohibits housing

Housing benefit changes affect landlords

In October 2013, the UK government plans to make changes to housing benefit. How will these housing benefit changes affect landlords in Scotland?

The Government intends to introduce a single 'universal' credit which will be paid to claimants of working age. The idea is to simplify the system for claimants, and make it easier for staff to administer. The new benefit will begin to be introduced in 2013 and will be completely phased in by 2017.

What will this mean in practice?

  • Housing benefit will

Letting Agents - can a tenant reclaim fees?

We blogged about the Scottish Government?s current consultation on letting agents charging premiums and possible amendments to the definition of a premium. Since then, Shelter launched a campaign encouraging tenants to ?reclaim your fees?. Shelter wants the Scottish Government to clarify the legislation to make it clear to tenants, landlords and agents just what charges are permitted, if any, over and above rent and a security deposit. So if you are letting agents - can a tenant reclaim fees?

So what is a premium?

The

Site acquisition checklist

You are buying housing sites and you have found a new site to buy. ?And agreed a price with the landowner. You now want to submit a formal offer to buy the land but do not want to commit to the purchase until you are sure that a number of other 'things' have been dealt with. What would now be ideal is a site acquisition checklist.

These ?things? are called suspensive conditions and would typically include:-

  • satisfactory site investigation reports ? you want to be

Feed in Tariff - Are RSLs running out of time?

Although the deadlines for the Feed in Tariff in March 2012 and the Community Energy Savings Programme (CESP) in December 2012 seem a long way away, are RSLs running out of time? Housing Associations would benefit from thinking about it now due to the lengthy lead in time.? This is due to the number of parties currently involved:

  • All systems installed need to be commissioned by approved suppliers
  • The works (and the carbon saving properties) must be completed before these dates -?not merely committed
  • Utility

Demise of Lifelong Tenancy Agreements

In 2010?the Coalition government introduced proposals that will mean the demise of lifelong tenancy agreements. These proposals howeveer will not affect Scotland as housing is a devolved issue for the Scottish parliament.

The plans are being debated at Westminster as part of the Localism Bill but current proposals include:
??the creation of a new tenancy in the social sector called the "flexible tenancy".
??a fixed tenancy for a minimum of two years. Tenants would not be guaranteed any extension to that initial period.

The idea

What are Collateral Warranties? Explaining the Basics

What are Collateral Warranties? Explaining the Basics

What are collateral warranties?
Collateral warranties are contracts which are designed to establish a contractual link between a third party (the beneficiary) and a contractor or consultant who has carried out certain works.

Why are they required?
In the case of a building contract, collateral warranties are a promise from the contractor to the beneficiary that the works have been carried out in accordance with the building contract. If the works have been carried out negligently, the beneficiary has a right of recourse against the

Welfare Reform and Registered Social Landlords

The Welfare Reform bill which is currently progressing through parliament at Westminster has created much debate amongst Registered Social Landlords.

Much of the debate has involved the proposed introduction of universal credit, a single benefit payment for all claimants. This credit would:

  • replace all existing benefits
  • involve the eventual removal of housing benefit as an individual benefit.
  • remove the current system where housing benefit can be paid directly to a landlord on a tenant?s behalf

Many landlords have rightly expressed concern that the proposed welfare

Finance Bill 2011 - SDLT Relief on Property Purchases

The Finance Bill 2011 will provide a fairer system of charging SDLT for those buying property in bulk, be this blocks of flats or a number of properties off plan from a Developer.

Historically, on purchases of this type, the SDLT rate would be calculated on the global price paid often resulting in a huge SDLT bill.? For some trading subsidiaries of RSLs this substantial outlay has been off putting.? Once the Finance Bill receives Royal Assent, SDLT for such multiple purchases will be