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Tribunal decisions made on bedroom tax appeals

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

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

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  • Replace prescriptive and outdated priority groups with a broader framework that gives landlords and their communities more local flexibility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

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

Scotland's Homeowner Housing Panel

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

Scottish Housing Bill - more legal changes

Scottish Housing Bill - more legal changes

Last year I blogged about the possibility of another Scottish Housing Bill during 2012 and more legal changes. That did not come to pass but plans are afoot for a Bill in 2013. Discussions are proceeding about the contents of the Bill.

I would imagine that one proposal which would meet almost universal support would be a ground for compulsory eviction where tenants are guilty of serious antisocial behaviour.

The UK Home Office published a draft Antisocial Behaviour Bill which will apply only to England

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

Housing benefit changes affect landlords

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

Site acquisition checklist

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 sure

Feed in Tariff - Are RSLs running out of time?

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

Demise of Lifelong Tenancy Agreements

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

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

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