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Scottish Government COVID-19 housing and homelessness guidance

Tuesday 28 April 2020

As the housing sector in Scotland responds to the Coronavirus outbreak it is essential that bringing empty properties into use is a national priority to ensure the continuing provision of safe and secure accommodation to those in need of emergency housing.

The Scottish Government has issued non-statutory guidance, which does not replace existing guidance, but aims to incorporate recently published public health advice to help private rented sector landlords meet their duties and legal requirements during the pandemic.

Safety first

It is recognised that current restrictions on movement, social distancing measures, and reduced workforce numbers are presenting challenges for housing providers in processing empty properties. Where issues are unable to be resolved locally, national COVID resilience housing hubs are working closely with the Scottish Government to identify and prioritise sector responses.

It is vital in instilling a public health approach that supports, safeguards, and protects staff and tenants to ensure homes continue to be made available in a safe way which limits the spread of infection.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, local authorities, social housing providers, and private landlords have been required to respond quickly to a range of complex issues. To support this work, a range of guidance has been issued on provisions:

  • emergency accommodation and guidance for rough sleepers to self-isolate and receive medical support
  • guidance for landlords to support those at risk of domestic abuse
  • guidance to support migrants with no recourse to public funds
  • a framework for supporting Gypsy’s/Travellers
  • guidance for landlords to conduct gas safety checks safely
  • guidance for private landlords and letting agents
  • guidance for social landlords

Bringing voids back

The guidance provides practical advice for landlords, housing managers, service delivery staff, and contractors in how to safely continue void property processing work whilst providing secure and, where possible, settled accommodation for those experiencing or at risk of homelessness or those in unsuitable accommodation.

Current legislation made under the Coronavirus Act 2020 allows for individuals to travel to move home and for the gathering of more than two people to facilitate house moves during the emergency period where reasonably necessary. As part of existing duties upon local authorities and broader public health measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, safe and suitable temporary accommodation should be provided to those who are homeless, in unsuitable accommodation or at risk within their current accommodation.

Bringing void properties back into use will help meet the anticipated increased need for housing. To achieve this, it is recommended that local authorities, landlords, craft operatives, tradespeople, and the local police divisions work together to facilitate the preparation of accommodation and support moves to place tenants into homes.

View guidance

PROPERTYMARK RESOURCES

Propertymark continues to support its members through the COVID-19 crisis, with a series of online resources for members including responsive webinars, fact sheets, and email updates. Daryl McIntosh, Propertymark's Strategic Development Manager, provided an update for agents in Scotland on the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill and other issues affecting agents in Scotland.

Webinar recording  Resources