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New plans to solve housing disputes
Steps to help resolve disagreements between tenants and landlords will be outlined in a consultation being launched yesterday.
The Housing Panel consultation will look at the best ways to prevent disputes from arising between landlords and tenants in the private and social rented sectors, and to help parties to resolve issues themselves with input from an independent mediator.
The consultation will also discuss the creation of a housing panel to settle such disputes. Options for this include: a problem solving panel to try and resolve cases before they reach court; or the creation of a specialist housing tribunal which would make decisions instead of a court.
Housing and Welfare Minister Margaret Burgess said:
"Every year, huge amounts of time, money and resources are spent to no effect trying to resolve issues that arise between tenants and landlords.
"This is something I have experienced first hand while helping people in previous roles, and it is absolutely vital that we come up with solutions to ensure that disputes are resolved as quickly and as painlessly as possible.
"While the majority of those in the rented sector enjoy good relationships with their landlords, this consultation will address those cases where this does not happen and will extend support where most required.
"This will help us come up with new ways to resolve the few difficult issues, through seeking the advice and recommendations from our key stakeholders and third party groups."
Alan Ferguson, Director of Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland, said:
"CIH Scotland has been seeking an alternative route of redress for housing cases in Scotland for many years and it is pleasing that the rationale behind this is also recognised by Scottish Government in the form of this consultation.
"It marks a very significant stage on the journey to the modernised, efficient system we have been calling for. What is important now is that fellow housing professionals and legal specialists respond to the consultation and ensure that the opportunity to bring about fundamental change is firmly grasped."