Call for views on the Housing (Scotland) Bill

The Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee is seeking views on the general principles of the Housing (Scotland) Bill.  A copy of the Bill and the accompanying documents can be found at—

Housing (Scotland) Bill

The Bill was introduced in the Scottish Parliament on 21 November 2013.  The Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee has been designated as the lead committee for Stage 1 consideration of the Bill.

Aims of the Bill

The Bill aims to make a variety of legislative changes relating to the social and private sector housing sectors.

Committee consideration at Stage 1

The Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee expects to consider written submissions and to take oral evidence from mid-January to mid-March 2014, before reporting on the Bill’s general principles in early April 2014.

The Committee therefore invites all interested organisations and individuals to submit written evidence on the Bill and its likely impact.  In particular, the Committee would like to receive responses to a number of key questions that are set out below under each of the Bill’s main headings. 

Part 1: Right to Buy

This part of the Bill places abolishes the right to buy by making certain repeals. The commencement of the main section on repeals is prohibited for at least 3 years.  The Bill will also make some amendments which it is intended will apply before the repeals are commenced.

Q1. What are your views on the provisions which abolish the right to buy for social housing tenants?

Q2. Do you have any views on the proposed 3 year timetable before these provisions come into force?

Part 2: Social Housing

This part makes provisions which relate to social housing. The rules and procedures around the allocation of social housing will be adjusted as will the operation of short Scottish secure tenancies and Scottish secure tenancies.

Q4. In your view, will the provisions which are proposed to increase the flexibility that landlords have when allocating housing, allow them to make best use of social housing?

 Q5. Will the proposals which will adjust the operation of short Scottish secure tenancies and Scottish secure tenancies provide landlords with tools that will assist them in tackling antisocial behaviour in an appropriate and proportionate manner?

Q6. Will this part of the Bill meet the Scottish Government’s objective of providing further protection for tenants, particularly tenants with short SSTs, by strengthening their rights?

Part 3: Private Rented Housing

This part provides for the transfer of the sheriff’s existing jurisdiction to deal with matters relating to private rented housing to the First-tier Tribunal (which is to be created under the Tribunals Bill, currently before the Parliament). In particular it transfers all non-criminal actions relating to regulated tenancies and some actions relating to the repairing standard, the right to adapt houses and landlord registration. Ministers are given a power to transfer certain actions relating to houses in multiple occupation. Part 3 also contains some further adjustments to private rented housing legislation, making changes to the landlord registration system and creating some third party rights in relation to enforcing the repairing standard.

Q7. Do you have any comments on the proposals for transferring certain private rented sector cases from the sheriff courts to the new First-tier Tribunal? 

Q8. Do you have any views on the adjustments to private rented housing legislation, which are intended to enhance local authorities‘ discretionary powers to tackle poor conditions in the private rented sector?

Q9. Do you have any comments on the Scottish Government’s intention to bring forward provisions at Stage 2 to provide additional discretionary powers for local authorities to target enforcement action at an area characterised by poor conditions in the private rented sector?

Part 4: Letting Agents

This part establishes a registration system for letting agents. As well as setting up a register, it sets out various offences, provides for the publication of a code of conduct and gives the First-tier Tribunal the power to issue letting agent enforcement orders in relation to breaches of that code. It also confers on Ministers a power to transfer the existing jurisdiction of the sheriff in relation to disputes between letting agents and landlords or tenants.

Q10. Do you have any comments on the proposal to create a mandatory register of letting agents in Scotland, and the introduction of statutory provisions regarding letting agents‘ practice?

Q11. Do you have any views on the proposed mechanism for resolving disputes between letting agents and their customers (landlords and tenants)?

Part 5: Mobile Home Sites with Permanent Residents

This part creates a new licensing regime for mobile home sites with permanent residents. It inserts a new Part 1A into the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960.

Q12. Do you have any views on the proposed new licensing scheme? 

Q13. What implications might this new scheme have for both mobile home site operators and permanent residents of sites?

Part 6: Private Housing Conditions

This part includes a number of adjustments to the law as it relates to private housing including conferring on local authorities a power to pay a share of costs arising from the tenement management scheme under the Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004 and modifying provisions relating to work notices, maintenance notices and maintenance orders under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006.

Q14. Do you have any comments on the various provisions which relate to local authority enforcement powers for tackling poor maintenance, safety and security work, particularly in tenemental properties?

Part 7: Miscellanous

This part contains some miscellaneous housing provisions, including a power to exempt certain securities from the right to redeem after 20 years contained in section 11 of the Land Tenure Reform (Scotland) Act 1974, the conferral of a power to delegate on the president of the private rented housing panel and homeowner housing panel, a modification of the Scottish Housing Regulator’s powers and a repeal of certain enactments relating to defective designation.

Q16. Do you have any comments relation to the range of miscellaneous housing provisions set out in this part of the Bill?

Other Issues

Q17. Are there any other comments you would like to make on the Bill’s policy objectives or specific provisions?

Q18. Are there any other issues that the Scottish Government consulted on that you think should be in the Bill?

Submitting your views to the Committee

The Committee invites views from all individuals and organisations who have an interest in the issues covered by the Bill.

You may only have a view on certain of the provisions contained in the Bill, so please do not feel that you have to respond to all of the questions that are set out above.  In addition, if you wish to provide comments on issues relating to the Bill that are not covered by the specific questions then the Committee invites you to submit these.

Before making a submission, please read the Parliament’s policy on treatment of written evidence by subject and mandatory committees.

To allow the Committee to take account of your views, submissions should be received by midday on Friday 28 February 2014.

Written submissions should be submitted electronically (preferably in Microsoft Word format) to—

ici.committee@scottish.parliament.uk

If you have any questions regarding the Committee’s scrutiny of the Bill then please contact the Committee clerking team at the e-mail address above or on 0131 348 5229.

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