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.

General

Will the Technical guidance be updated before the new reporting year?

Yes, we are updating parts of the Technical Guidance in December 2019 to provide additional clarification on some indicators. Indicators will not change.

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 two 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.

11

How many times in the reporting year did you not meet your statutory obligation to complete a gas safety check within 12 months of a gas appliance being fitted or last checked

Q.  In relation to void properties, if a landlord has capped the gas supply but this is out with the anniversary date of the previous CP12 would this be counted as a fail?

A.  Even although the capping is out with anniversary date it does not count as a fail. An up to date gas safety check record must however be provided to new tenants before they move in.

 

Q.  What does SHR mean when it says landlords must make sure the gas supply is safe?

A.  For void properties the supply must either be capped or have a valid gas safety record in place. This applies to properties bought via mortgage to rent (MtR) as well. For MtR properties if the tenant (former owner) has a valid certificate this is acceptable. If not, the landlord should provide a certificate at the tenancy start as the norm.

 

Q.  How soon after a landlord has bought back a property should a gas safety check carried out?

A.  If the property is empty the landlord should cap the supply immediately. If at the end of the reporting year the property has not been capped this should be reported as a fail.

 

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

Number of households waiting for adaptations to their home.

Q.  I’m not sure what I should be measuring here and reporting on.

A.  This indicator is new for reporting year 2020. It is measuring the number of households (applications) waiting for an adaptation, not the number of adaptations outstanding. There may be several adaptations for a household listed on the application. (For this indicator an “application” equates to a “household”.)

Indicator 21 has been updated for 2020 and measures the average time to complete individual adaptations. There may be several adaptations for a household contained in an application. There is a worked example provided in the FAQs on I21.

Worked example for Indicator 19:

RSL A receives 20 applications for medical adaptations between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020.   This represents adaptions needed to 19 different households (one household has had two applications submitted). Each application has three adaptations on it.  

  • 13 of the 20 applications have all their adaptations completed before 31 March 2020.   These 13 completed applications had a total of 39 individual adaptations.
  • Each of the remaining seven applications have had two of the three adaptations completed. With two of the applications outstanding being for the same household.
  • Therefore, one adaptation remains outstanding on each of the seven applications - a total of seven adaptations not completed during 2019/20 reporting year. This means that 6 households have seven adaptations outstanding at the end of the reporting year.
  • RSL A also has two applications received in 2018/19 reporting year where two out of three adaptations for each household were not completed during 2018/19 but were completed in 2019/20. This means four adaptations across two households were completed in 2019/20 reporting year but received in the previous year.

Therefore RSL A should report:

19(i) 21 (the two households waiting on adaptations to be completed from 2018/19 plus the 19 households with applications received during 2019/20);

19(ii) 15 (two applications from 2018/19 and 13 from 2019/20 which have been completed during 2019/20);

19(iii) 6 (21 total households waiting on adaptations minus 15 households where all adaptations were completed in 2019/20).

 If 19(iii) does not equal 19(i) minus (19(ii) you will be prompted to provide a comment explaining the reason.

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.

19,20 and 21

It isn’t clear whether Indicator 21 refers to applications or adaptations.

We have provided clarification on indicators 19, 20 and 21 in the revised Technical Guidance.  Indicator 19 refers to households (applications) and indicators 20 and 21 refer to adaptations.  There may be more than one adaptation on an application.

20

Total cost of adaptations completed in the year by source of funding (£).

Q.  The housing adaptations grant landlords receive from the Scottish government contains an amount to cover the administrative costs of providing this service, should this amount be included at 20(ii) – the cost (£) that was grant funded?

A.  Yes, this is part of the overall grant and therefore it should be included. 

21

Q.  Can you advise how I should be counting individual adaptations completed? For example, if there are external grab rails fitted to the front and rear of the property and an internal grab rail on the stairs. Should this be counted as one, two or three adaptations?

A.  This should be counted as three adaptations.

21

The average time to complete adaptations

Q.  I’m not sure what I should be measuring here and reporting on.

A.  Indicator 21 has been updated for 2020 and measures the average time to complete adaptations. There may be several adaptations for a household contained in an application. A worked example is shown below.

Worked example for Indicator 21

Using the figures in the worked example for Indicator 19:

  • 21(i) The total number of working days taken to complete the 43 individual completed adaptations (39 individual adaptations from the 13 completed applications described at FAQ Indicator 19, plus the four individual adaptations completed from the applications received during 2018/19)..
  • 21(ii) 43 (as described above)
  • 21(iii) This will be 21(i) divided by 21 (ii)

 

23

Homelessness (RSLs only) – the percentage of referrals under Section 5 and other referrals for homeless households made by the local authority, that result in an offer, and the percentage of those offers that result in a let.

Q.  If a RSL is part of a common housing register (CHR) or operates a choice based lettings system (CBL) what should it count as a referral?

A.  Although there may be some double counting of referrals for those RSLs operating a CHR or a CBL system, this is acceptable and landlords should use the total number of referrals received (i.e those on the list with a homeless priority pass or equivalent).

Worked example for I23

RSL A has a two bedroom property to let. It looks to see how many eligible applicants there are on the CHR or CBL. There are 10 applicants so this counts as 10 referrals.

The following day RSL A has another two bedroom property to let. It repeats the process and finds that eight applicants are eligible.   This counts as eight referrals (and a total of 18 referrals to date).

Landlord A should not count eligible applicants where it is clear that they do not want a property in Landlord A’s area.

Worked example for Indicator 23:

RSL A receives 100 referrals during the reporting year. These are:

  • 24(i) 40 Section 5 referrals with priority passes and
  • 24(ii) 60 referrals under other routes with priority passes. :
  • 24(iii) 100 (24(i) plus 24 (ii)).
  • 24(iv) 20.   (Of the 40 Section 5 referrals at 24(i) above RSL A makes 20 offers of permanent accommodation.)
  • 24(v) 30. (Of the 60 referrals via other routes at 24(ii) above RSL A makes 30 offers of permanent accommodation.)
  • 24(vi) 50. (24(iv) plus 24(v)).
  • 24(vii) 25 (50%). RSL A has made a total of 50 offers of permanent accommodation. 25 of these have been accepted. (25 divided by 50 x 100 = 50%).

RSL B also receives 100 referrals during the year. 30 of these are the same applicants that have been referred to RSL A. If RSL B also makes an offer to one of these applicants it should record this as an offer at 24(iv) or (v) and record the outcome if the offer is accepted at 24 (vii).

23

Homelessness (RSLs only) – the percentage of referrals under Section 5 and other referrals for homeless households made by the local authority, that result in an offer, and the percentage of those offers that result in a let.

Q.  How should referrals received during the reporting year but not offered or housed until the new reporting year be recorded.

A.  Referrals received in the previous year should be included in the total number of referrals received in the previous year. The number of offers made and accepted should be recorded in the new reporting year. This ensures that RSLs contribution to housing homeless people is accurately reflected.

23 and 24

Homeless referrals and lets.

Q.  What are these indicators measuring?

A.  These indicators measure how, during the reporting year, landlords are working together to house homeless people.

Q.  Are the calculations based on a specific date in the reporting year or based on the full reporting year?

A.  They refer to the full reporting year. Landlords should count all referrals and lets made in the reporting year. See the worked example for I23 above for advice on CHR and CBL referrals.

24

Homelessness (LAs only) – the percentage of homeless households referred to RSLs under Section 5 and through other referral routes.

Q.  If a council sends a referral to a RSL in error (for example: a single person is referred for a three apartment) should this be counted as a referral?

A.  No, as a general rule, they should not be counted. However some RSLs do allow single people to under occupy three apartment properties. If this is the case these referrals should be included.  

18,26, and 27

Q. If a landlord front funds medical adaptations and has paid for adaptations to be completed in the reporting year but has not yet claimed funding from Scottish Government should this be reported as landlord funded?

 

A. No. It should be reported as grant funded. Landlords will know how much grant funding they will receive so they should record it as grant funded despite it not yet being received.

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.

26

Rent collected as a percentage of total rent due in the reporting year.

Q.  Should mid-market rent properties be included when calculating rental income or any of the other indicators?

A.  No. These properties are not classed as social rented properties and should not be included in any of the calculations or the stock information.

 

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.

18 and 30

Void loss and re-let times

Q.  If the police are holding keys to a void property during an investigation can these days be excluded from the void loss and re-let times calculations?

A.  Yes. The time taken for the police investigation is out with landlords’ control and therefore should be excluded from the void loss and re-let 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.