Enforcement of repairing standard
47.Section 21 sets out the basis for the Private Rented Housing Panel and Private Rented Housing Committees, which will be formed by renaming the existing Rent Assessment Panel and Rent Assessment Committees constituted under Schedule 4 to the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984. As well as carrying out the duties set out in this Chapter and schedule 2 to the Act in relation to enforcement of the repairing standard obligations, they will also carry out all of the existing work of the Rent Assessment Panel and Rent Assessment Committees. The president of the Panel must monitor how the Committees exercise their functions in relation to the repairing standard and can give guidance and (except in relation to particular cases) directions.
48.Section 22 outlines the right of a tenant, who believes that his or her landlord has not complied with the repairing standard duty, to apply to the Panel to seek a determination as to whether the landlord has complied with their duties under the repairing standard. An application can only be made to the Panel if the tenant has informed the landlord of the need for work to be done. An application to the Panel cannot be made if the landlord is a local authority, a registered social landlord, Scottish Water or Scottish Homes.
49.Schedule 2 sets out the procedure to be adopted by a Private Rented Housing Committee in determining an application. Under paragraphs 1 and 2 the landlord and tenant must be notified and given the opportunity to make written or oral representations. The Committee may also make other inquiries, including inquiries about matters not included in the application. Under paragraph 3, the Committee may cite any person to give evidence or information. It is an offence to refuse to give such information, to make a false or misleading statement in respect of information required, or to conceal or destroy any documents requested. Where the application alleges that the landlord is failing to provide suitable fire detection and warning measures, the Committee must consult the fire and rescue authority. Once the Committee reaches its decision, which can be by a majority, it must record it in a full report which must be sent to the landlord, tenant, any person acting for the tenant in relation to the application (where the Committee is aware of his or her name and address) and local authority (paragraph 6). Paragraph 7 provides that, even if the tenant withdraws the application, the Committee may continue to consider the case and make a repairing standard enforcement order if appropriate.
50.Section 23 makes provision about the process whereby the president of the Private Rented Housing Panel decides whether to refer an application to a Private Rented Housing Committee or reject it. Section 24 requires the Committee to which an application is referred to decide whether the landlord has complied with his repairing obligations. If it decides that the landlord has failed to comply, it must issue a repairing standard enforcement order, requiring the landlord to carry out work to meet the repairing standard, within a specified period of at least 21 days. The order may state specific things that the landlord must do to meet the standard. If it decides that the landlord is unable to comply because he is unable to obtain rights of access, it must notify the local authority.
51.Section 25 allows a Private Rented Housing Committee to vary or revoke a repairing standard enforcement order. This includes extending the period within which work must be completed, when the Committee is satisfied that the work was not or will not be completed within the original period set and either considers that satisfactory progress has been made or that a written undertaking from the landlord that work will be completed by another date is satisfactory.
52.Section 26 sets out the procedure if a landlord fails to comply with a repairing standard enforcement order. The Committee must notify the local authority of the failure and may serve a rent relief order. The landlord is not to be treated as having failed the standard if the Committee is satisfied that he or she has tried but is unable to obtain rights, such as rights of access, that are necessary for him or her to carry out the work, or that the work is dangerous. Section 27 provides that a rent relief order reduces the rent payable by up to 90% but does not otherwise affect the tenancy. The order falls when the work has been completed or the repairing standard order is revoked, and a rent relief order may be revoked by the Committee at any time.
53.Section 28 makes it an offence for a landlord to fail to comply with a repairing standard enforcement order or to enter into a tenancy or occupancy arrangement while a repairing standard enforcement order is in effect, unless the Committee consents.
54.The work of the Panel will be the subject of an annual report. Section 29 sets out what the report should cover and that the report must be submitted to the Scottish Ministers, who must lay any report before the Scottish Parliament. The report will be prepared by the President of the Panel and will cover the work of the President, the Panel and the Private Rented Housing Committees in the period up to 31 December each year.