Regulations made under Section 32A of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987
By: Published: September 2008
Our comments on amending the wording of the existing interim accommodation Regulations, and the circumstances and conditions that should be met to enable Short Assured Tenancies (SATs) to be used to discharge duty.
- Shelter agrees, in principle, that there might be greater use of the private rented sector (PRS) by allowing local authorities, in some circumstances, to discharge their statutory duty to households who are homeless into a private let. We believe that this is an important additional means to achieve the 2012 target and, if used well, is consistent with greater applicant choice.
- We agree that use of this power should be limited by criteria designed to ensure that that homeless households are making an informed choice in accepting a private tenancy. It is important that affordability, and support needs are taken into account and management and repair standards are met within the tenancy. However, we think it is unlikely that these criteria can be satisfactorily assessed before the tenancy has commenced.
- Shelter does not think that the housing needs of homeless households can be met within a 12 month Short Assured Tenancy (SAT). A minimum fixed period of 2 years should be provided to enable tenants to feel secure and to become settled.
- We propose that to enable an accurate and meaningful assessment of the suitability of the tenancy and to ensure that tenants are given sufficient security of tenure, discharge of duty should be delayed until after the satisfactory completion of a review following an initial 6-month tenancy period.
- Following an initial 6-month SAT, the local authority should review affordability, management standards, repair, and any ongoing support needs. The review should also seek views from the tenant and the landlord about the tenancy. If the review concludes that the private sector tenancy is appropriate and the tenant gives informed consent, the local authority should negotiate a longer (minimum 2 year) fixed term tenancy with the landlord before discharging duty. Otherwise, the local authority would continue to have a duty to accommodate the tenant in a different private sector tenancy or in social rented housing.
- We have suggested ways in which the requirements on affordability, support and informed consent can be strengthened practicably. We believe that it is wrong to omit minimal physical standards and that all landlords with whom homeless households are being housed should meet national core standards.
- We see the amended regulations as a short-term measure designed to address immediate concerns about capacity to meet 2012. In the medium term (ie over the term of this parliament) we look to a new housing bill to revamp private sector tenancy law to give additional tenancy options, which promote longer term security.