Registered social landlords and homelessness

In certain situations registered social landlords have duties towards people affected by homelessness.

This content applies to Scotland

Section 5 referrals

Where a local authority has determined that someone is homeless, in priority need and is not intentionally homeless, it can request that a registered social landlord provide permanent accommodation for her/him. [1]

In making such a request, the local authority should ensure that it is appropriate and takes account of the legal duties owed to the applicant. This includes taking into account the accommodation which is available in the local authority area, the suitability of the accommodation to be offered in terms of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 and the Code of Guidance on Homelessness. [2]

Compliance and refusal

The registered social landlord must comply with this request to provide accommodation within a reasonable period, unless it has a good reason for not doing so. [3] Guidance issued by the Scottish Government suggests that a reasonable period for compliance is six weeks, although registered social landlords are expected to respond speedily. [4] If the response is likely to be a refusal to provide accommodation, it is expected that the landlord should respond immediately and give reasons. [5]

The registered social landlord may have good reasons for not providing accommodation. Scottish Government guidance sets out two examples of good reasons:

  • The landlord cannot provide accommodation within six weeks. In this case, the landlord may indicate that appropriate accommodation can be offered in a longer timescale. The local authority can then request accommodation at the end of the later period. [6]

  • The landlord cannot provide accommodation within any timescale. This is a good reason if the landlord only has accommodation of a particular type and it is not appropriate for the applicant, for example, sheltered housing, supported accommodation or a property with specific adaptations. [7] The needs of the applicant, the availability of alternative accommodation and the requirement to retain a pool of specialist accommodation must be taken into account when determining whether a landlord has good reason to refuse in this situation.

The request to provide accommodation can be withdrawn by the local authority, for example if it receives new information that indicates that the potential accommodation would not be appropriate. Guidance indicates that this could include cases where the applicant had been responsible for an act of domestic abuse against someone living in the area. [8] In addition, both the landlord and the local authority may agree that the request should be withdrawn if the registered social landlord is unable to provide accommodation within a reasonable period. In this situation, the local authority has to be satisfied that it can find alternative accommodation within a reasonable period. [9]

In general, if accommodation is offered it must be in a Scottish secure tenancy. [10] However, if the prospective tenant has been evicted for antisocial behaviour in the past three years or has an anti-social behaviour order applying to her/him or a member of her/his household, s/he can be given a short Scottish secure tenancy. [11]

Suspension from the waiting list

A registered social landlord may not impose a suspension from the waiting list where an applicant is owed a duty under homeless legislation. [12] See the section on Allocation of tenancies for more information.

Arbitration

If the registered social landlord does not comply with the local authority's request within a reasonable period, and both parties are unable to agree within five days that there was a good reason for this, they must appoint an arbiter to sort it out. [13] If they are unable to agree on an arbiter, then the Scottish Ministers will do this at the request of the local authority. [14]

Any decision made by the arbiter on whether the registered social landlord should house the prospective tenant or not is binding on both the landlord and the local authority. [15]

Guidance sets out the period within which the arbiter must be appointed, the procedure for making the appointment and the arbitration procedure itself. [16]

Last updated: 26 April 2019

Footnotes

  • [1]

    s.5(1) Housing (Scotland) Act 2001

  • [2]

    para 8 Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 Homelessness Section 5: Guidance on Good Reason, Scottish Executive, September 2002

  • [3]

    s.5(3) Housing (Scotland) Act 2001

  • [4]

    para 6 Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 Homelessness Section 5: Guidance on Good Reason, Scottish Executive, September 2002

  • [5]

    para 7 Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 Homelessness Section 5: Guidance on Good Reason, Scottish Executive, September 2002

  • [6]

    para 11.1 Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 Homelessness Section 5: Guidance on Good Reason, Scottish Executive, September 2002

  • [7]

    para 11.2 Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 Homelessness Section 5: Guidance on Good Reason, Scottish Executive, September 2002

  • [8]

    para 10 Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 Homelessness Section 5: Guidance on Good Reason, Scottish Executive, September 2002

  • [9]

    para 11 Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 Homelessness Section 5: Guidance on Good Reason, Scottish Executive, September 2002

  • [10]

    s.5(4)(b) Housing (Scotland) Act 2001

  • [11]

    s.5(4)(a) Housing (Scotland) Act 2001

  • [12]

    s.20B(2)(b) Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 as inserted by s.6 Housing (Scotland) Act 2014.

  • [13]

    s.6(1) Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 and article 2 The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 (Appointment of Arbiter) Order 2002 SSI 2002/413

  • [14]

    s.6(3) Housing (Scotland) Act 2001

  • [15]

    s.6(6) Housing (Scotland) Act 2001

  • [16]

    Homelessness Arbitration CSGN/2002/12, Regulation and Inspection Division, Communities Scotland