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Housing Bill

Wednesday, 26th March, 2014

The Scottish Government has introduced a new Housing Bill which if approved will introduce a new Private Rented Sector Housing Tribunal which will provide more efficient, accessible and specialist access to justice for both tenants and landlords.

Jurisdictions for civil private rented sector cases will be transferred from the sheriff courts to the PRS tribunal in future as part of plans to be included in he forthcoming Housing Bill.

The decision to introduce a PRS tribunal comes following recent consultation exercises which highlighted that access through the courts can be particularly difficult for those in the private rented sector.

One of the key actions of the Scottish Government's PRS Stategy, published in May 2013, is to improve the means of redness open to consumers.

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess said:

"The majority of housing disputes are resolved between the parties involved without having to go to a court or other decision-making bodies. Landlords carry out much good preventative work, which can often stop disputes escalating to court action.

"However, where parties cannot reach an agreement to resolve their dispute, someone else needs to step in. By introducing a specialist private rented sector tribunal tenants and landlords will benefit from a more accessible and specialist decision maker for their disputes. This will enable increased access to effective justice."

The Bill also seeks to give Local Authorities new discretionary powers to make application to the Private Rented Housing Panel with regards to the Repairing Standard. The Scottish Government also intends to legislate to allow local authorities to make an application to Scottish Ministers for additional powers to target enforcement action on areas characterised by poor conditions through an Enhanced Enforcement Area. 

Related to this, improving new discretionary powers in relation to private sector housing will give local authorities more tools to use in tackling poor standards of owner occupied and privately rented housing.

Regulation of the letting agent industry will also include a new Letting Agents register and statutory code of practice, which will promote high standards of service and levels of professionalism, as well as provide landlords and tenants with easy access to a mechanism that will help to resolve disputes where these arise.


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