11 Dec 2013

Introduction of the Housing (Scotland) Bill

Introduction of the Housing (Scotland) Bill

Rachel Main, Solicitor, discusses the new Housing (Scotland) Bill and the impact that it may have on landlords and tenants across Scotland. 

Rachel Main, Solicitor, discusses the new Housing (Scotland) Bill and the impact that it may have on landlords and tenants across Scotland. 

A lack of finance and tough market conditions has resulted in many across Scotland renting as opposed to buying property over recent years. As a result, the Scottish Government has introduced a Bill to parliament on 21 November 2013 which aims to improve the quality of rented accommodation across social and private sectors.  

One of the aims of the Bill is to abolish the Right to Buy for tenants of social landlords. The Bill stipulates however that this cannot happen until three years after it  has received Royal Assent, which the Scottish Government hopes to be summer 2014 (although there is widespread hope that this period will be reduced after consultation). The aim is to preserve social housing in Scotland given the current demand for same and it is hoped that the abolition of right to buy will preserve almost 15,500 houses in the next ten years. In turn, it is hoped that this will then encourage those who may have wished to utilise the right to buy in the past to use new government shared equity schemes such as the Help to Buy (Scotland) Shared Equity Scheme for first time buyers.

The Bill also looks to change the current practice of private tenancy disputes ending up in local Sheriff Courts by introducing a private rented sector tribunal, the First-tier Tribunal (FTT), to deal with a variety of matters including repossession cases. This would see disputes being dealt with by a specialist justice service which would look to resolve disputes more effectively. This is in conjunction with proposals in the Tribunals (Scotland) Bill which provides the operational detail for the FTT. 

A more flexible system for allocation of social housing is also proposed, prioritising those who are homeless or threatened with homelessness and will afford landlords more protection in dealing with anti-social behaviour.

Other provisions will introduce a regulatory framework for letting agents, enhance local authority powers to improve the quality of houses in the private sector and introduce licensing for mobile home sites, improving the rights of almost 3,300 people currently living in mobile homes.

The Bill is primarily hoped to provide further protection for tenants across Scotland but many social and private landlords have already voiced their opinions over the finer details of many of the proposed changes, many of which are likely to be raised at the Consultation stage. 

Rachel Main, Solicitor

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