Private Rented Housing Panel – What’s the reality for landlord and tenants?06 May 2016
In September 2007, a new team the Private Rented Housing Panel (PHRP) was established to “help Scottish tenants and landlords resolve their differences and provide tenants with a way to force landlords to do necessary repairs. “
Interestingly we have never had a case go through to the hearing stage of the complaint … until now!
I thought it might be interesting to write about how the process went as a case study.
In this particular instance the initial case was raised in early October 2014 and it related to windows – the tenant claimed that they were not fit for purpose, they were leaking and very drafty. T
he tenant had raised this with the landlord previously in the tenancy however the landlord did not accept that the windows were drafty. The landlord did some remedials on the windows which the tenant felt were not adequate hence the claim raised with the PRHP.
The tenant withheld rent on the basis that the rent was not legally due, as the property was not wind and watertight. The tenant continued to receive full housing benefit despite the landlord’s (and our) request that the funds were held in an account pending the outcome of the case.
Each party was given the opportunity to submit their representation and once reviewed a date for the hearing was set. The date was finally set for 23rd February 2015, 5 months on from submission of the claim and 5 months without rent for the landlord. In my opinion, this is far too long. From the tenants side, should the windows be found to be not wind and water tight, they have had to endure 5 months of leaky windows. Should the windows be found to be in reasonable order, the landlord has gone 5 months without rent.
There were 2 parts to the hearing, a visit to the property with a surveyor to assess the windows, where no party is allowed to speak, only to assess the windows. 3 individuals from the panel are required to attend, a surveyor, a chairperson and a housing officer – this takes around 30 mins. Then a hearing at the panel offices on the same day a few hours later, where each party is allowed to voice their opinion on the windows. Again 3 members of the panel are present as well as the tenant and landlord (or landlord’s representative). This also took around 30 minutes but I suppose that could vary hugely. I assumed an outcome would be imminent following the assessment, given that the whole process had already run on for 5 months, however apparently the decision takes about 2 weeks to be issued!
In summary, I can’t see how this PRHP is working efficiently for tenants or landlords, given the length of time and number of resources required to make a decision.