General Issues raised
As noted earlier, the consultation paper and the associated questions focused on the specifics of the draft regulations. However, a small number of respondents did raise some more general issues associated with the FTT. These are summarised below.
Charging of fees: A number of respondents commented on this issue. Some welcomed the FTT being free of charge for everyone (Scottish Land and Estates, Shelter Scotland).
Homes for Scotland and the Scottish Property Federation were of a different view. They had concerns that the FTT may become overloaded, particularly in the early days, and that both tenants and landlords may experience excessive delays. They recommended that a reasonable fee is charged to applicants to access the service, suggesting this would help ensure the service is adequately resourced and sustainably funded in the longer-term. The Scottish Property Federation also noted their members' support for expenses being chargeable to an applicant if unreasonable behaviour can be proved (under Rule 37).
Timescales: Homes for Scotland and the Scottish Property Federation commented that it will be critical that applications to the FTT are dealt with in a timely manner to minimise any risk and potential increased management costs for investors. They noted that the current draft procedures do not provide detailed guidance as to timescales but suggested that they should.
Capacity: On a more general point, CIH Scotland also had some concerns about the capacity of the new system and possible implications if it is not able to cope with the volume of cases generated. They were concerned that the likely number of cases presented in the consultation paper could be an underestimate and that it is not clear whether the FTT will have the capacity at the outset to deal with cases over and above the estimates given. They recommended that the situation be monitored closely and a formal review of the new system carried out after the first year of operation.
Rights to Access a Property: Homes for Scotland raised a query as to whether a Landlord has the right to access a dwelling without consent from the FTT in order to carry out obligations set out within the Model Tenancy Agreement.
Shelter Scotland also made a similar point with regard to Rule 114 - No postponement permitted. They objected to this rule and suggested that, given that the tenant risks losing his or her home, it is important that a tenant can apply for a postponement of a hearing. They went on to comment that Rule 114 highlights tensions in Rule 2 - The overriding objective between avoiding delay and dealing with proceedings in a manner proportionate to the complexity of the issues and the resources of the parties.
Email: Ged Millar, Ged.Millar@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House