“It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.” – William James
“When you have a dream, you’ve got to grab it and never let go.” – Carol Burnett
“You are enough just as you are.” By Jorie Nicole McDonald
This month is Better Speech and Hearing month which could be why the Scottish Association of Landlords and safe deposits have raised awareness of new landlord and tenant resources in a deaf action campaign.
Deaf Action: new landlord and tenant resources
Deaf Action is a charity which supports deaf and hard of hearing people across Scotland. They have recently launched a service called Safe & Sound (thanks to funding from the SafeDeposits Scotland Trust) with the aim of supporting deaf British Sign Language users who rent their homes, and the landlords and letting agents who rent to deaf people, ensuring they have access to the services they need.
Deaf Action can offer private landlords advice on how to make their properties safe for deaf tenants and provide interpreters to help with communication. They are also offering deaf awareness workshops – all free to the users, thanks to the funding.
Deaf Action Launches Safe & Sound Service As reported in the November 2020 issue of Key Matters, the SafeDeposits Scotland Charitable Trust awarded funding to Deaf Action for a project supporting Scottish landlords and tenants affected by hearing loss.
Deaf Action is an Edinburgh based, deaf-led charity providing services across Scotland for the estimated 1,012,000 people living with some degree of hearing loss. Approximately 150,000 people affected by hearing loss live in Scottish households with a private tenancy agreement and the new service – Safe & Sound – aims to close the gap where specialist advice and support for this group is lacking. Safe & Sound is now live. For tenants, the service offers a variety of resources.
On the Safe & Sound website there are British Sign Language (BSL) videos making information accessible for deaf people – currently you can view guidance in BSL on deposits and what to do in the event of a dispute. Via the website deaf tenants can get in touch with the Safe & Sound team for expert advice on renting, including subjects such as safety and security measures where guidance on smoke detectors, Co2 alarms and doorbells will be available.
Safe & Sound can also provide funded BSL/English interpreters throughout 2021 to improve communication between tenants and landlords. Interpreters can help at every stage of the rental process, from advertising properties and agreeing terms through to responding to emergency repairs, disputes and problem solving. Landlords and letting agents meanwhile can benefit from a consultancy service that provides advice on how to make properties safe for deaf tenants, and can also get in touch with Safe & Sound about interpreters where required. As part of Safe & Sound Deaf Action is hosting online free deaf awareness workshops for landlords and letting agents, which are inclusive for both hearing and deaf landlords.
The workshops are designed to help: improve communication skills with deaf tenants; understand the importance of accessible information; engage with BSL/ English interpreters to communicate with tenants; find out about specialist safety equipment and security measures for deaf tenants. Workshop dates are on our calendar on page 14, and all Safe & Sound information – including workshop booking links – can be found at www.deafaction.org/services/safe-sound/
Rent Control Ruled Unlawful
One of the most controversial and debated pieces of legislation in recent years, has been ruled unconstitutional by Germany’s highest court. A cap introduced in February 2020 to combat soaring rents in Berlin, violated the Basic Law and as such was unlawful, in the view of the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe.
The rent cap is reported to have affected 90% of properties in Berlin (1.5m), for which rents had been frozen for five years at their June 2019 level. Any existing rents which were defined as excessive at the time, had to be reduced too. Past 2025, any rent increases would have been limited to 1.3% per year in line with inflation.
However, Berlin’s rent controls policy had come under the attacks from its opponents who claimed that it deterred investors from building new homes, fuelling demand for existing stock and ultimately having a detrimental effect on tenants.
There have also been reports of landlords increasingly introducing a shadow rent clause in tenancy agreements, binding renters to pay an increased price in the event of the court abolishing the rent controls policy.
Now that this scenario has materialised, many renters face the prospect of paying backdated rent.
The Fair Rents (Scotland) Bill
The ruling on Berlin’s rent cap policy comes as a huge blow for supporters of a blanket restriction on mid-tenancy rent increases in the Scottish Private Rented Sector.
The Fair Rents (Scotland) Bill was first introduced before the Scottish Parliament in June 2020, however, due to concerns about there not being sufficient time for the Bill to complete its progression through parliament before the May elections, it was rejected by the Local Government and Communities Committee. However, following political pressure, a consultation into the Fair Rents (Scotland) Bill was held in October 2020.
In a formal response to the consultation, Propertymark who doesn’t agree with the overall policy aim to control rent levels in the private rented sector, highlighted that the policy could lead to a reduction in supply and have a negative impact on housing quality.
Propertymark also raised concerns that the proposals set out in the Bill, could have unintended consequences, namely landlords who would have otherwise not increased rents, may feel that they now have ‘permission’ to do so on an annual basis, as the Bill introduces a principle of a once-a-year increase.
Reform of existing Rent Pressure Zones
Now that the Scottish National Party has won the elections, ARLA Propertymark’s Daryl McIntosh, Policy Manager for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, believes that the party’s priorities will be to reform the existing Rent Pressure Zone legislation under the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016, to introduce some form of rent control to meet with their pre-election promises.
Mr McIntosh said: “The message from the SNP manifesto for the 2021 election was for the introduction of a new Housing Bill, introduced early in the next parliament to provide greater protection from unreasonable rent increases.
“There remains very little evidence that capping rents provides for a successful PRS, all indicators pointing the opposite way, with landlords poised to withdraw investment leading to a diminished supply of private sector housing adding more pressure for an already short supply of social housing.
“There appears to be a notion all landlords are privileged, extracting rents from tenants in pursuit of financial gain. The statistics actually show most landlords own only one or two properties and many are elderly relying heavily on rental income as a source of income.
“Prior to considering any new policies the Scottish Government must have robust data collection procedures ensuring any decisions made are on the evidence in front of them.”
Mid-market homes Coming to Former Glasgow Bus depot site
A planning approval has been awarded to Link Group, in partnership with Govanhill Housing Association, to deliver 33 mid-market rent homes on the former Larkfield bus depot in Glasgow, as part of a larger project which will see a total of 121 new apartments built.
The new development, designed by Hypostyle Architects, is due to complete this summer. It will add to Link Group’s existing phase at Butterbiggins Road with 186 mid-market rent homes.
Commercial Director of Link Group, Colin Culross, said: “We are delighted planning has been approved for the second phase of our Butterbiggins Road development in Glasgow, in partnership with Govanhill Housing Association.
“The project will deliver 121 new homes for Link’s highly successful retirement living homes product, together with amenity homes and a small element of family housing. 60 homes are available for social rent, 33 for mid-market rent and 28 homes will be available for New Supply Shared Equity, all adding to the rich diversity of housing already in the area.
“The development, made possible by support from Glasgow City Council’s Development and Regeneration Services and Scottish Government funding, will complete the larger redevelopment of the former bus depot site, significantly enhancing the area.”
Mr Culross added: “This development best illustrates our commitment of providing homes, working together, building communities and valuing people, which supports our vision of improving the lives of people by providing homes they want to live in, and delivering high-quality services that are affordable, especially to those on low incomes.”
The Larkfield bus depot closed in 2014 after being relocated to a nearby new purpose built facility in Cathcart Road.
The site was previously the subject of applications for a Lidl supermarket and smaller commercial/retail units. Despite the permission given for the supermarket, Lidl withdrew its interest.
As I often get Lidl and Aldi mixed up, I shall use that for a VERY loose link –
This Italian cafe is behind an Aldi in Airdrie and called Bacchialdi’s. (Say it out loud in a Scottish Accent.)
Aldi Uk replied in a quote tweet: “Not even mad. Genius x”
The cafe has since responded to the online storm, writing on their Facebook page: “We did have to promise never to make a caterpillar cake though.”
Hopefully, that brought a smile to your day.
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