Scottish Social Housing Charter: Your frequently asked questions

Your questions about preparing your Annual Return on the Scottish Social Housing Charter or ARC.

Updated

01 April 2019

Below are the frequently asked questions landlords have asked about our Social Housing Charter Technical Guidance. We've published these questions to support landlords in making their Annual Return on the Scottish Social Housing Charter. 

General

My reporting year is not 1st April to 31st March.  Is that ok?

Yes. Please just be clear in your return if this is the case.

All satisfaction

We survey 25% of our tenants every quarter, can these results be ‘rolled up from one reporting year to the next?

The quarterly survey results can be ‘rolled up for the reporting year only. Do not ‘roll up’ results from one reporting year to the next.

All satisfaction

Can we provide context before asking a question e.g. neighbourhood management or value for money?

Yes.

3 and 4

Should Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) with non-registered subsidiaries be reporting on complaints relating to the RSL only, the RSL’s complaints and the non-registered subsidiaries’ complaints separately, or the total complaints, including both the RSL’s and non-registered subsidiaries?

Complaints made about any non-registered subsidiaries should not be included in the RSL’s ARC. The parent RSL may wish to keep a breakdown of the complaints for their own monitoring, but for reporting in the ARC, it would be the complaints relating to the RSL only.

3 and 4 

Is a stage 1 complaint progressing to a stage 2 complaint only recorded as a stage 2 complaint?

No, a stage 1 complaint which progresses to a stage 2 complaint should be recorded as a stage 1 complaint and a stage 2 complaint.

6 and C10-C13

In order to meet element 44 of SHQS, do smoke detectors have to be hard wired?

Currently for properties that already have smoke detector(s) installed, the minimum requirement is one detector per property (rather than per floor) and this can either be battery-powered or mains-powered. From 1 February 2021, all properties will need to have:
• one smoke alarm installed in the room most frequently used for general daytime living purposes (normally the living room/lounge);
• one smoke alarm in every circulation space on each storey, such as hallways and landings;
• one heat alarm installed in every kitchen;
• all smoke and heat alarms to be ceiling mounted; and
• all smoke and heat alarms to be interlinked.

Smoke detectors may be either mains-operated alarms or tamper proof long-life lithium battery alarms (i.e. not PP3 type or user-replaceable), in line with the revised Tolerable Standard which comes into force in February 2021. You can access further information about the 2019 Order extending the Tolerable Standard criterion here.

Annex A of the SHQS guidance highlights that the Tolerable Standard consists of a changing set of legal requirements that are also a subset of SHQS. This means that as the tolerable standard changes, SHQS also changes.

8

This Indicator asks for the number of hours taken to complete emergency repairs. It is stated that the time should be expressed in hours. Is this the time taken for each individual repair or the total number of hours for the job to be complete?

The time starts when the landlord received notification of the emergency repair, and ends when the job has been made safe. Any follow up work required will be issued with a new job line with the locally agreed target response times for the appropriate category of repair.

8 If used, should landlords be verifying the times/ data recorded by handheld devices used by workmen out on emergency repairs?

Yes. Data is only transmitted from the handheld devices where there is network coverage available. A record of all repair jobs, notification and completion times should be kept for verification.
8

What is the Regulator’s interpretation of “completion of the work necessary to remove the emergency nature of the repair”?

The emergency nature of a repair is removed when the contractor stops the immediate problem e.g. turns off the water, gas or power supply or makes the home secure.

9

What dates have to be used when counting time taken for non-emergency repairs?

The first date should be the day the repair was reported by the service user and the end date should be the date it is signed off as completed. Pre-inspection visits are to be included in the time taken. Time taken due to receipt of faulty parts or delays due to inclement weather have also to be included.

8 and 9 

How would we record the dates if we cannot gain access to the property to fix the repair?
“No access” should not be included in the time taken for the repair to be fixed.

8 and 9 

For “no access” cases, our IT system would have difficulty in dealing with an original completion time of 8 days then deducting 5 days for no access. Can we arrange an alternative start date?

The Regulator expects IT systems to record the information to meet the requirements of the definition. To ensure all landlords are recording data in the same way the definitions of the start and end date are as follows:

Start date: date the repair was reported by the service user.

End date: date the repair was signed of as completed.

10

What does ‘Right First Time’ mean in relation to repairs?

In order for a repair to be classed as “right first time” it has to meet three separate criteria:

1. The repair is completed within the landlord’s target timescales agreed locally. If the repair requires multiple trades, all aspects of the repair must be completed within the locally agreed target timescales for the repair to be considered right first time.

2. The repair is completed without the requirement for a recall. A recall is where the work was not undertaken correctly the first time. If a subsequent defect with the original repair is reported within twelve months, then the original repair will not be considered to be completed right first time.

8,9 and 10

Are repairs to temporary accommodation for the homeless to be included?

If the property is self-contained and owned by the landlord, these repairs should be included. If the property is leased and the landlord is responsible for repairs, these works should also be included.

8,9 and 10

Are lock-up garage repairs to be included?

No. Only repairs to occupied self-contained properties are to be included

8,9 and 10 

How do landlords deal with repairs which require separate trades’ contractors or numerous workers?

How landlords organise for repairs to be carried out is irrelevant to tenants. The Regulator expects landlords to look at the recording of its repairs performance from the tenant’s perspective. The timescale is commenced when a repair is reported by the tenant and is completed when all elements are finished, irrespective of the numbers of trades or work persons involved.

10

If the landlord notifies the tenant that the repair will require more than one visit, will this be classed as right first time if the repair takes a number of separate visits to complete?

Yes, as long as the landlord has agreed this with the tenant, in advance and the job meets the other criteria specified for “right first time”.

10

What if an operative responds to a repair call, completes within the landlord’s timescales, but it has required two visits?

This would pass the first criteria for ‘right first time’, but the job would also have to meet the other criteria that the second visit was not due to a faulty repair on the first visit i.e. a recall. 

10

If an operative/contractor turned up late to an appointment or they did not keep the appointment right away then I class the repair as not RFT. The repair will still get completed and may be within target and not re-called but because of the situation with the appointment I am classing this as a failure. Is this correct?

No. The appointment issue is a separate matter. The indicator is largely trying to capture the quality of the repairs that have been undertaken i.e. the problem is fixed. So while keeping appointments is important it is something different.

11

Can you provide further details on the gas safety regulations?

It is for landlords to ensure that they meet these obligations by referring to the regulations and any guidance that comes with them.  At all times landlords should follow the latest Gas Safety Regulations first and foremost.

12

If a landlord collects satisfaction data on each repair carried out in the year in a property, should they only be reporting based on the feedback for the latest repair, or can they just report the satisfaction for all the repairs carried out e.g. an average?

Landlords should only include the satisfaction figure for the final repair in the reporting year when providing that data to us. For example, if a property has three separate repairs in the reporting year then only the satisfaction figure for the third repair should be included in the figures provided to us. Landlords may wish to use the other data (e.g. the first and second satisfaction figure in the example) for its own internal purposes.

13

Landlords are not responsible for all aspects of neighbourhood management. In some areas certain aspects of management are the responsibility of other organisations and agencies, so can this be considered as a measure of a landlord’s performance?

For most tenants, their landlord will be the first port of call if they are experiencing issues in their neighbourhood. If landlords are not responsible for certain aspects of neighbourhood management they can assist or signpost tenants to the appropriate organisation or sources of assistance.

When asking tenants about their satisfaction landlords are able to provide context beforehand.

14

Are landlords to include no responses to offers of housing as refusals?

Yes. The ARC does not require a breakdown of refusal reasons; however landlords should be able to produce this information if requested during verification.

14

Should landlords count multiple refusals for one property?

Yes. The indicator requires the number of offers of housing that were refused.

14

Are landlords to include Short Scottish Secure Tenancies?

Yes. Scottish Secure Tenancies and Short Scottish Secure Tenancies are to be included.

14

Are the offers/refusals based on the lets in the year the total numbers offered and refused regardless of a let?

Yes, all offers and all refusals made within the reporting year should be counted.

15

What is the Regulator’s definition of ‘a case' in relation to antisocial behaviour?

A case is opened when a tenant or service user reports an incident of antisocial behaviour to their landlord.

15

Where a landlord has closed an antisocial behaviour case as resolved and the situation subsequently flares up again, is this classed as a new case?

Yes, when a case is closed and a further service request is received, this should be counted as a new case. Where further approaches are received whilst a case is ongoing, this is not counted as a new case.

15

When assessing if a case is resolved, whose satisfaction are landlords to go by – the landlord’s or the individual raising the case?

A case should be closed when it is resolved to the landlord’s satisfaction. SHR are aware that some matters may never be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties involved.

16

What is the definition of transfer?

A transfer is an existing tenant of the landlord who moves to another of the landlord’s properties.

16

 Should all types of transfers be excluded or management transfers only?

All types of transfers should be excluded.

16

How do we count the properties?

This is not a count of properties. It is a count of the number of tenancies that have commenced during the previous reporting year and a count of how many of these tenants remained in their homes for more than 365 days. The figure should be reported as a percentage.

16

Does a joint tenancy transferring to a single tenant (and vice versa) count as remaining in the tenancy?

Yes, both of these scenarios would be counted as remaining in the tenancy, provided the initial tenancy agreement was signed over 365 days ago.

18

If a property is being used by a contractor during a programme of work how should the void loss be calculated between the date the property becomes empty to the date the contractor signed an occupancy agreement? Should this period be included in the void loss?

No, this period will not be included in the re-let times therefore it should not be included in the void loss. Again it should be treated as a ‘normal’ void when it is returned by the contractor. A clear audit trail needs to be in place to show the calculations.

19,20, and 21

Should landlords include all adaptations regardless of whether they are paid for or provided by the Housing service or not? In some Local Authorities, for example, certain types of adaptations can be funded by Social Care Departments.

All adaptations completed to the landlord’s self-contained properties should be reported, regardless of the source of funding used.

19.20, and 21 

What is meant by ‘Stage 2’ adaptations?

“Stage 2 adaptations” refers to adaptations to properties at new build stage. These should be excluded from the information returned in the ARC.

 

19,20, and 21 

Are minor adaptations such as handrails and major adaptations such as those involving extending or remodelling a property to be included? Also should we include in our calculations for indicator delays due to funding restrictions for adaptations?

All adaptations are to be included in both indicators, regardless of the scale of adaptation or the reasons for delays. Landlords can however add any performance comments in their ARC submission.

19,20, and 21

Should landlords only include adaptations that are the result of a professional assessment i.e. an Occupational Therapist’s report?

No, all adaptations with or without a professional assessment, should be included.

19,20, and 21 

Local Authorities carry out adaptations on both council owned and privately owned properties. Should we be reporting on both scenarios?

Councils should only report on medical adaptations carried out on the self-contained properties they own.

19,20 and 21 

What constitutes the date of the “approved application”?

The application is classed as approved, from the date of the outcome of an assessment by appropriate department/person.

18,26, and 27

Should rent due and rent collected/ arrears include Service Charges?

Yes.

18,26 and 27

Should rent due and rent collected/ arrears include lock-ups and garages, garage sites?

No. Garages, garage sites and lock-ups should be excluded. These indicators refer to occupied dwellings only.

18, 26, 27, C6 and C7

Should HMOs being used for temporary homeless lets be included in Indicators?

No, all forms of homeless temporary accommodation should be excluded from these indicators.

27

Should a landlord be reducing down the value of the arrears reported by the amount of HB received in their first payment for the new year for the last year?

If housing benefit payments received in the new reporting year relate to the previous reporting year then this value should be deducted from the arrears value.

27

Do the arrears written off only relate to the reporting year or can they be arrears from previous years?

The arrears can relate to either the current or previous reporting years. However the write off must have happened during the current reporting year.

28

Should commercial properties be included in the average annual management fee per factored properties?

This indicator only relates to residential properties therefore commercial properties should not be included.

28

Should the average annual management fee include VAT?

No, VAT should not be included because this will be reclaimed by the landlord.

29

How often should a satisfaction survey of Factored Owners be carried out?

A minimum of once every three years. See the Ipsos MORI guide published on our website.

 

18 and 30

If the Social Work Department is looking for a tenant for a property and it pays the rent during this period can this be excluded from the void loss and re-let times?

Any period which the Social Work Department does not pay the rent should be included in the void loss and re-let time calculations. If no rental loss is being charged to voids then it cannot be included in these calculations.

30

Does the time taken to re-let properties include or exclude public holidays?

This calculation is based on calendar days and therefore public holidays should be included in the time to re-let calculation. 

30

If a property becomes void and it is decided that it will be used by a contractor for business purposes during a programme of work, how should a landlord deal with reporting this?

It should not be included as a re-let at this point but should be treated as a ‘normal’ void when it is returned by the contractor. A clear audit trail needs to be in place to show the calculations.

30

Are landlords entitled to exclude properties that are ready to let, but not available to let, from their days to let figures?

Landlords can only exclude void days from their calculation when their empty property falls under one of the categories set out under this indicator in the technical guidance. If a landlord decides their property does qualify for an exclusion, they must hold the necessary documentation to support such a decision, as they may be asked to provide this should they be selected for verification.

C2

What is to be counted as “other sources”?

Other sources are referrals from other agencies or groups e.g. Women’s Aid, Social Work Department etc.

C2 and C3

Does a situation where support is provided to a tenant by a third party organisation count as supported accommodation?

Yes.

C2 and C3

Would time limited support for a tenant be classed as supported accommodation, for example a period of support from an external agency when a new tenant moves into general needs stock?

Yes, this would be defined as ‘supported accommodation’. The

Regulator recognises however that landlords can only report on support if they are aware of it.

C2 and C3

Is supported housing the same as sheltered housing?

Sheltered housing is one type of supported housing.

C4

Do we count as properties abandoned a situation where the tenant was the subject of eviction action?

No. Only properties abandoned as outlined in sections 17 and 18 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 should be included.

C4

What is the SHR calculation for this indicator?

There is no SHR calculation for this indicator. To calculate the indicator landlords will count the number of properties abandoned during the current reporting year.

C6

What tenancy’s should be included in the calculation for the percentage of households with direct payments i.e only new tenancy’s starting in the reporting year, temporary accommodation?

All households that the landlord receives direct housing costs are to be included, irrespective of the tenancy type or start date.

C6

What is the calculation for the value of payments?

The value will be the total amount of housing costs (either through housing benefit or universal credit) received by the landlord for the reporting year minus any overpayments recovered from the landlord, regardless of when the overpayment was made.

C7

Is the value of written off arrears included in the total value at year end?

Yes, the total value of former tenant arrears at year end is defined as ‘the rent that is lawfully due to the landlord (including garages, lock ups and service charges) and is unpaid by former tenants, prior to write off being applied’.

C10 & 12

Can landlords clone EPCs?

Landlords must ensure they achieve the relevant minimum EE ratings by the first milestone of 31 December 2020. Landlords are not required to produce 100% EPCs for EESSH compliance. However, they may choose to work towards this target.

The cloned information can be used to show compliance at C33. However, data gathered through cloning or extrapolation should not be used to populate a new EPC instead of using data collected from a full assessment. Consequently it cannot be used at C36 because this asks about the number of valid EPCs at the end of the reporting year.