A year in review: The most read stories on Scottish Housing News in 2022
A pilot project to encourage property owners to sell directly to the local authority in a bid to ease housing pressures in the Highlands and prevent second-home owners from letting out their homes on Airbnb was the most read story on Scottish Housing News in the past year.
The Highland Council launched the scheme as soaring house prices and a rise in short-term lets were freezing local people out of the market.
Allan Maguire, head of development and regeneration at Highland Council, said the scheme was started after the local authority was approached by several homeowners who had inherited a property from their parents and wanted to keep it in the community.
The continuing roll-out of new benefits also caught the attention with the beginning of the Cost of Living Payment in September and the Adult Disability Payment being available across seven more regions in July attracting many readers.
The Adult Disability Payment was the twelfth and most complex benefit to be delivered by the Scottish Government and replaces the UK Government’s Personal Independence Payment.
Back to housing, the biggest story of the second half of the year was the unveiling, backlash and implementation of the rent freeze and eviction moratorium across the social housing and private rented sectors until at least March 2023.
Announced as the centrepiece of the 2022-23 Programme for Government (PfG) in September, the policy drew criticism from housing associations, letting agents and private landlord bodies who expressed fears that it would “jeopardise” affordable housebuilding and result in a reduction in the number of properties on the market.
The Cost Of Living (Tenant Protection) Act became law in October and its main proponent, tenants’ rights minister Patrick Harvie MSP, joined SHN editor Kieran Findlay and former Dundee housing convener and housing justice campaigner Jimmy Black on the Scottish Housing News Podcast to respond to those concerns.
Just this week, the Scottish Government announced its decision not to extend rent controls for social housing providers beyond March 2023 with social landlord representatives bodies announcing their members’ plans for below-inflation rent increases for the next financial year. Decisions on future plans for the private sector rent freeze, as well as other measures contained in the Act, will be announced in the coming weeks.
Way back in January, Landsec announced plans to demolish Buchanan Galleries in Glasgow to make way for an £825 million mixed-use transformation.
Under the proposals, a new public space would be created on the void above Queen Street Station to improve access across the city centre, along with active travel routes and linkages to the station and other public transport hubs.
The month also saw homeowners and landlords prepare for new regulations on interlinked smoke alarms which came into force on February 1.
The new standard requires a smoke alarm to be installed in the room used most for daytime living, for example in a living room. Others will have to be placed in “circulation spaces” like hallways or landings on every storey of the property, and all smoke alarms must be interlinked and ceiling-mounted.
Tributes also poured in for Glen Oaks Housing Association’s late CEO, Alasdair McKee, who passed away at the beginning of November. Alasdair, 58, ran Glen Oaks since its inception in 1991 - first as director and latterly as CEO.
Fitting messages from across the housing sector were published on the Scottish Housing News website, as well as on our LinkedIn and Twitter pages. A full Appreciation of Alasdair McKee saw his family pay tribute to his life and work, and take the opportunity to say thank you for the many messages of condolences received. Hundreds of people from across the housing association movement then said their final farewells to their much-loved colleague.
The housebuilding landscape in Scotland was changed significantly in June when Springfield Properties confirmed a deal to acquire the Scottish housebuilding business of Mactaggart & Mickel Group Ltd.
Delivering housing for almost 100 years, family-owned Mactaggart & Mickel’s housebuilding division included six live development sites and 11 future private and affordable sites across the central belt. Springfield also acquired Mactaggart & Mickel’s Timber Systems operation and the companies have entered a strategic alliance that gives Springfield opportunities for future acquisitions of sites from Mactaggart & Mickel’s strategic land portfolio across Scotland.
Facilities management provision for many social landlords was also shaken by the demise of Dundee construction firm McGill in August.
The news broke when McGill Facilities Management Limited initially submitted a notice of intent to appoint administrators with the Court of Session. Reports then emerged that some members of staff at McGill had not received their wages and also alleged that pension contributions deducted from some employees’ wages were not paid into the designated pension fund.
The company officially entered administration, for the second time in less than four years, on August 25.
Elsewhere, Reidvale Housing Association, which was registered as a social landlord in 1976, decided to seek a formal partnership through a transfer of engagements to a larger RSL, officially launching its search in November.
A position statement on the “unnecessary and deeply regrettable” loss of an iconic community-owned housing association from the Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations (GWSF) also drew thousands of readers.
GWSF director David Bookbinder said the takeover decision was “steered by what are effectively external parties, all with the apparent approval of the Regulator”.
And finally, the winners of the Chartered Institute of Housing’s Scotland Housing Awards were announced at a special ceremony at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Glasgow at the end of October.
The event saw Laurie Naumann from Kingdom Housing Association and Dave Alexander from Eildon Housing Association both recognised for their Outstanding Contribution to Housing.