7. Current Outcomes and Standards: Quality of Housing (Charter standard 4)
QUALITY OF HOUSING (Charter standard 4)
Social landlords manage their businesses so that tenants' homes, as a minimum, meet the Scottish Housing Quality Standard ( SHQS) by April 2015 and continue to meet it thereafter, and when they are allocated, are always clean, tidy and in a good state of repair. 
This standard describes what landlords should be achieving in all their properties. It covers all properties that social landlords let, unless a particular property does not have to meet part of the standard. Beyond SHQS, landlords should be looking for cost-effective ways of achieving higher energy-efficiency standards for their properties, to provide warmer homes for their tenants and help to meet climate change targets. During this Charter's lifetime, the Scottish Government will consult on higher standards. If adopted, these new standards will form part of the next Charter.
Question 6a): Would you keep this standard exactly as it is or change it? Please explain your answer.
7.1 Of the 95 respondents who answered this question 41% considered that the standard should remain exactly as it is; 55% thought it should change; and 4% did not know.
7.2 Individual respondents were evenly balanced between those who favoured the status quo (47%) and those favouring change (47%). Differences of opinion appeared amongst organisations, however, with most TRGs wanting to keep the standard unchanged, and most of the social landlords ( RSLs and local authorities) suggesting change. It should be noted that many of those suggesting change did so on the basis that the revised standard should reflect the introduction of the EESH, and did not argue for broader changes. Table 7.1 in Annex 2 presents a breakdown of views by respondent category.
Views of those in favour of keeping the standard as it is
7.3 Very few comments were received. The standard was perceived to be relevant, concise and in plain English. A few respondents remarked that to maintain standards at this level as well as meeting future standards and EESH would be challenging and have cost and time implications.
Views of those in favour of changing the standard
7.4 25 respondents across a range of sectors recommended changing the standard to reflect the introduction of the EESH.
7.5 11 respondents noted that the reference to April 2015 for meeting SHQS needs updating, with some identifying the need to move onto a next stage or more demanding standard now that most landlords have achieved standard 4.
7.6 One theme to emerge across a range of sectors was that standards should address quality of life, and health and well-being in local areas. Quality of "place" was perceived to be significant, for example, to enable tenants to have access to outdoor exercise.
Royal Town Planning Institute Scotland:
"We acknowledge that this element of the charter refers specifically to the physical fabric of homes. However we think it is important to highlight here the importance of including quality of place in assessments of overall quality………..emphasise that this quality of place should not be treated as an 'add on', but integral to improving the service provided by RSLs."
7.7 Two respondents (a TRG and the Scottish Human Rights Commission) called for the standard to link to the international human rights' standards which address issues such as threats to health; protection from cold.
7.8 Other, more specific recommendations, each made by one or two respondents are listed in Annex 3.
Question 6b): Please provide any suggestions on how we could improve the supporting narrative
7.9 Several respondents called for the supporting narrative to be updated to the current position regarding SHQS and EESH. A local authority recommended that if further targets are anticipated beyond 2020 then these should be referred to. One individual respondent suggested that specific time targets should be included in the narrative. One RSL suggested updating the narrative to include health and safety standards. A few respondents requested that emphasis is placed on continuing to meet standards post the target date for achievement.
7.10 Two respondents suggested that the supporting narrative includes reference to place and quality in addition to the physical fabric of properties. One RSL recommended that the narrative be amended to reflect the contribution of social landlords to the national Health and Wellbeing outcomes.
7.11 More specific suggestions are in Annex 3.