Are you ready for April 2013?
Landlords are preparing for new changes this year and our latest publication for Scotland guides them to handle queries from tenants. Find out more...
CIH Scotland’s new practice guidance Preparing for the bedroom tax and beyond seeks to complement other CIH guidance such as Making it fit, partly by stressing the crucial importance of landlords doing face-to-face visits to tenants, and partly by highlighting very specific decisions landlords will need to make when the changes come into effect in April 2013 – particularly around their rent arrears and allocations policies. Examples of these include:
- To what extent is eviction really being seen as a likely sanction in cases of bedroom tax arrears? In Scotland there are strong doubts over whether the courts would evict at all for this, and even then, whether a tenant could be deemed as intentionally homeless
- Will landlords take a softer approach to arrears built up by existing tenants, and a harder approach where a new tenant has knowingly accepted an under occupied home?
- Will a landlord simply refer a tenant to the council to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP), or will landlords proactively discuss with their council what the priorities will be for this limited pot to address hardship?
- Would all bedroom tax tenants be candidates for DHPs, or just those who’ve asked for a transfer but can’t get one?
- Does a robust approach to transferring bedroom tax under occupiers mean not being able to transfer other under occupiers such as those not on benefit, and older people? And what about the impact on the ability to house people on the housing list, including homeless people?
- Where a household refuses an offer because they don’t want to under occupy, is that a reasonable refusal?
- Will landlords put all their rents up to enable them to be more resilient to the changes, even if that just increases the debt facing under occupiers?
And all these dilemmas don’t even touch on universal credit – which is why our autumn 2012 guidance certainly won’t be the last we produce.