Update on Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 Guidance
In previous newsletters we've explained the changes introduced by the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014. Tenants told us they want to know when the allocations, tenancies and antisocial behaviour changes will happen and what they will mean.
We don't yet have a date for the changes to come into force as the commencement order for the provisions still has to be laid in Parliament. As soon as we have definite dates we will make sure they are well publicised: guidance on aspects of the legislation is available on the Scottish Government's website and at https://beta.gov.scot/policies/social-housing/. Rather than cover all the Act's changes this article focuses on changes to the rights of tenants with a Scottish Secure Tenancy agreement, in particular:
- assignation (signing over their tenancy to someone else);
- subletting their home
- adding a joint tenant to the tenancy; and
- succession to the property on the tenant's death.
Landlords will tell tenants about changes to their tenancy rights before they happen. There will be enough time before the law changes to give everyone - landlords and tenants - time to prepare. Landlords will also need to tell tenants how they should be notified of changes to who is living in the property, for example in writing or online.
The vast majority of social housing tenants in Scotland have a Scottish Secure Tenancy, which gives tenants rights to pass their tenancy to someone else, to add someone as a joint tenant, to sublet or to have someone in the household succeed to the tenancy in the event of their death. Tenants will keep these rights, but there will be changes to the rules. These include:
Assignation - under the new rules anyone who wants to be assigned a tenancy must have been living in the property as their only or principal home for at least 12 months before an application to assign is made (at the moment it is six months). There are also new reasons when a landlord can refuse an application for assignation, such as where passing the tenancy on to someone else would result in the home being under-occupied.
Subletting - under the new rules a tenant applying to their landlord to sublet the property must have lived there as their only or principal home for 12 months (at the moment there's no minimum period).
Joint tenancies - under the new rules the proposed joint tenant must have lived in the property as their only or principal home for 12 months before making an application for a joint tenancy (currently there's no minimum period).
Succession - under the new rules, partners, other family members or carers will have to have lived in the property for at least 12 months as their only or principal home before being able to succeed to it. Currently the only qualifying period is six months for partners.
There will still be no qualifying period for the tenant's spouse, civil partner or joint tenant to succeed in future. But in all cases that person must have been living in the house as their only or principal home at the time of the tenant's death.
Where a new residency requirement has been introduced, such as in the examples above, the landlord must have been notified that the person is living in the house, because the qualifying residency dates from the time that the landlord was notified. So, if the person needs to have lived in the house for 12 months, the 12 months will start from the date the landlord was notified, not the date the person moved in (if that is different).
The Act's changes mean tenants will keep their rights to pass on their tenancy, sublet , add a joint tenant, or have someone succeed, but the new residency requirements will help stop abuse of the system and make it fairer.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you require further information on this.
Email: Annabel MacMillan