Changes to housing allocations and tenancies

The Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 introduced changes to help landlords improve their use of housing stock. The changes involve the allocation of properties and tenancies.

Changes regarding allocations will come into effect in April 2019 while changes regarding tenancies will come into effect in November 2019. 

Find out more information about changes regarding:

Allocations

Find out more about the changes affecting allocations that are coming into effect in April 2019 in this guide for tenants.

Tenancies

All tenants will receive notification in writing of what the changes mean and who to contact with any queries.

The most significant change is the importance of letting us know who is living in your household.  This includes letting us know about anyone who has previously moved in with you who you have not already told us about.  We should also be notified when anyone moves into or out of your home in the future.This is important because any decision about subletting, assignation, joint tenancy or succession will be based on whether yourself and or the applicant are recorded by the council as living in the property for a minimum of 12 months.  It is also important to note that a tenancy can now be ended due to a conviction being obtained not only for the tenant or joint tenant, but for any person living in the property due to immoral or illegal purposes, or any offence punishable by imprisonment which was committed either in, or in the locality of the house.

Find out more about other changes affecting tenancies:

How to update the information held on who is in your household

You can contact your Housing Office by email or in writing, to notify that there has been a change to who is living in your property.  You can also call in person to any local housing office and notify us in writing of a change. 

Changes that affect assignations

The new Act states that you must have lived at your property for at least 12 months before applying for permission to pass the tenancy to someone else. There was previously no qualifying period.  Also, the person you wish to pass the house to must have lived at the property as their main home for at least 12 months prior to the application.  The previous qualifying period was 6 months. Importantly, we cannot consider the 12 month period to have started unless we have been formally advised in writing that the person you wish to pass the property to is part of your household.  

The Act has added 2 further reasons under which permission to assign a property can be refused. Firstly, we can refuse permission if the person would not get priority under our allocations policy and secondly, if the home would be under-occupied. 

Changes that affect sub-letting

The new Act requires you to have been the tenant of the house throughout the 12 months immediately before you apply for written permission to sublet your home.  There was previously no qualifying period.  Also, the person who you wish to sub-let the property to must have been living at the property during those 12 months and we should have been notified of them living there.  

Changes that affect applying for a joint tenancy

The new Act states that the proposed joint tenant must have lived at the property as their main home for the 12 months before the application is submitted. There was previously no qualifying period. 

Changes that affect Successions

There will be some cases where an individual has given up their home to care for a tenant or have not informed the landlord they have moved in and the tenant dies before the 12 month period has been met.  In such cases the Carer may find themselves with no right to the tenancy and potentially homeless at a time when they are also experiencing bereavement. In such cases, the Council will carefully consider all the circumstances and consider whether it is appropriate to allocate a new tenancy for either the same or another property. 

Changes to how a tenancy can be ended

The Act allows for Scottish Secure Tenancies to be ended due to Court Order, conversion to a Short Scottish Secure Tenancy or in cases where adapted properties are required for a person who needs the adaption and it is not currently required by the occupants.  

Changes to how a tenancy can be ended by a Court Order

The Act has changed the way in which a Scottish Secure Tenancy can be ended by a Court Order.  A Court does not have to consider whether it is reasonable to make an order for eviction in cases where a landlord has grounds for recovery of possession due to:

  • a conviction being obtained due to the tenant, joint tenant, person living in the property, sub-tenant or visitor either using the house for immoral or illegal purposes
  • an offence punishable by imprisonment which was committed in or in the locality of the house

This means that a tenancy can be ended if someone living in the home or visiting the home is convicted of a serious offence in the vicinity of the house. It allows the Council to end the tenancy where behaviour has had a serious impact on neighbours or others in the community.  A serious offence is one that the offender could have been imprisoned for, whether or not they were sentenced to imprisonment.  If we are intending to end a Scottish Secure Tenancy in this way we would serve a notice on you advising that we intend to seek recovery of possession of the property.  That would be done within 12 months of the conviction (or, if it was appealed unsuccessfully, of when the appeal ended).

A tenant has a right to challenge the Council’s decision to take court action to end the tenancy on these grounds.

Changes in ending the tenancy of a property which has been adapted

The new Act allows any social landlord to request a Court order to end the tenancy of an adapted property which is no longer being occupied by anyone who needs the adaptations.  This only applies where the landlord requires the property for someone who does need the adaptations.  If this situation was to arise, we would give notice before applying to the Sheriff for a Repossession Order and would offer suitable alternative accommodation.  The tenant would be able to ask the sheriff to consider whether the request was reasonable and to challenge the suitability of any alternative accommodation. 

Changes in converting a tenancy to a Short Scottish Secure Tenancy

The new Act extends the circumstances by which we could change your Secure Tenancy to Short Scottish Secure Tenancy.  This would give you fewer rights and less protection from eviction than a Secure Tenancy.  A Short Scottish Secure Tenancy has a fixed duration, unless we agree to extend it or convert it back to a Scottish Secure Tenancy.  

The circumstances now include any situation where a tenant or someone living with the tenant has acted in an antisocial manner or pursued a course of conduct amounting to harassment of another person. This conduct must have been in or around the house occupied by the tenant and it must also have happened in the 3 years before the notice is served.

The Act also requires landlords (in cases where no Anti-social Behaviour Order (ASBO) has been granted by the court), to include in the notice the actions of the person who has behaved in an antisocial manner, the landlord’s reasons for converting the tenancy and details of the tenant’s right of appeal to the sheriff.

Right to Buy

The Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 abolished the Right to Buy for all tenants of social housing in Scotland on 1 August 2016.

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