New guidance to help social landlords meet allocations and suspensions obligations

Revised practice guidance is under development to help social landlords prepare for the implementation of new provisions on allocations and suspensions under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 over the next 12 to 18 months.

Specialist housing research consultants Craigforth and CIH Scotland have been jointly appointed by the Scottish Government to prepare the guidance, which is due for publication in autumn 2018.

The 2014 Act replaces current ‘reasonable preference’ categories set out in the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987. These categories specify the groups of people that social landlords must give reasonable preference to when allocating their homes. For the first time, social landlords will have the option to take property ownership into account when making such decisions.

The changes in policy on allocations and suspensions mean that social landlords operating across Scotland will need to review their own policies to reflect the new legislative framework. The deadline for doing so is not yet confirmed but is likely to be in the spring of 2019.

The new practice guide now under development will be designed to supplement statutory guidance previously published by the Scottish Government to support the coming into force of social housing provisions under the 2014 Act. It will supersede and replace previous practice guidance on allocations published in 2011 and suspensions guidance published in 2009. It will be developed in close consultation with housing practitioners, ensuring that practical experience from the frontline of the sector is reflected in the publication.

Anne Cook, head of the social housing services team at the Scottish Government, said: “We are delighted to have commissioned Craigforth and CIH Scotland to develop new practitioner guidance on allocations and suspensions. It will support Local Authority and RSL landlords in reviewing their allocations policy and managing the allocation of their housing stock.  It will also provide practice examples to help landlords ensure their allocations policies and practices provide a clear and coherent approach to allocations that meet local needs.”

Lucy Robertson, managing director of Craigforth, said: “We’re aware that many local authorities and registered social landlords will be reviewing their current allocations related policy and associated practice during 2018. Landlords may then need or choose to alter their policies. Beyond the changes brought in by the 2014 Act, the strategic and policy context within which landlords are letting their properties has also changed significantly since the Scottish Government’s 2011 practice guide was published.

“The commitment of the Scottish Government to produce updated practice guidance is therefore very timely. We look forward to working with housing colleagues and partners on the production of this important resource.”

Ashley Campbell, policy and practice manager at CIH Scotland, added: “We are really pleased to be involved in developing materials to support the implementation of this legislation. We want to ensure that the practice guide reflects the experience of housing practitioners on the ground and will be inviting our members and key stakeholders to come forward and share with us their expertise and real world practice examples over the next few weeks.”