Thursday, 4 February 2016

Scottish Government fail Scotland’s private sector tenants

Scottish private sector tenants are to be given less security of tenure than they enjoyed in Scotland under Mrs Thatcher’s Government from 1988.  The Scottish Government’s response to the Parliament’s ICI Committee report on the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill - published today[1] – will guarantee landlords an à la carte menu of mandatory eviction grounds to get rid of tenants.

The stated aim of the Bill was to provide “a clearer and simpler tenancy regime for the modern private rented sector which is fit for purpose”.  The Parliament’s Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee had asked the Government to give more thought to which eviction grounds should be mandatory and how much discretion should be given to the new Housing Tribunal in deciding whether to evict or not.

The Scottish Government has responded by endorsing its own view that landlords should be able to evict tenants at will. It has refused to budge on giving landlords a guaranteed right to remove a tenant from his or her home whenever they intend to sell, refurbish, move a member of their family in, or use the property for non-residential use.

On behalf of Govan Law Centre, Mike Dailly, Solicitor Advocate said:  “The Scottish Government are determined to give Scottish private tenants a zero hours contract on their home with no security of tenure in practice. This will create a moral hazard in the same way we had bankers spending other people’s money without a care in the world. Private landlords will be able to run their businesses in the comfortable knowledge that taxpayers will bail them out. Landlords will be entitled to remove their tenant out at will, with local authorities picking up the tab under homelessness law. It’s truly shameful, unjust and regressive”.

“What we will see in Scotland is evictions where landlords ‘intend’ to move in a member of their family, put the property on the market for sale, refurbish or stop letting. These intentions will guarantee the automatic eviction of tenants, but we all know most of these intentions will never materialise. In over twenty years as a housing law practitioner I have never seen such badly drafted, ill-advised and unjust grounds of eviction in legislation”.

“We had really hoped the Scottish Government would have listened to the advice of the Scottish Parliament’s Committee, which had carefully considered evidence from a wide range of tenant bodies, homelessness charities and advice agencies, and cautioned against these mandatory grounds of eviction. Sadly they have sided with the interests of private landlords; and of which many elected members are”.


GLC recruitment: Vulnerable Client Caseworker, Prevention of Homelessness Project

Vacancy for a Vulnerable Client Caseworker at Govan Law Centre

Salary: £23,869
Salary info: 34 hours per week. Funded till 2018 continuing funding being sourced.
Status: Full time
Closing date: 12/02/16
Location: Glasgow
The role:  Govan Law Centre Prevention of Homelessness Project require a Vulnerable Client Caseworker to provide; Housing and Homelessness rights advice, representation and advocacy in terms of current Housing and Homelessness Law and Policy and in terms of section 11 of the Homelessness etc (Scotland) Act 2003.
Provide housing advice across all tenures; Social Rented, Owner Occupied & Private Rented Sector, and to people experiencing, or at risk of Homelessness. Work with and provide support to vulnerable individuals and groups. Based in Govan Law Centre and outreach throughout Glasgow.  Govan law centre (GLC) is an independent, charitable community controlled law centre operating in Scotland.
Please send or email CV and Covering Letter to:
Alistair Sharp
Senior Coordinator/Manager POHP, Govan Law Centre, Unit 4, 18-20 Orkney Street,
Glasgow G51 2BZ
Closing Date: 4pm Friday 12th February 2016
Telephone 0141 440 2503
Please note that if you have not received a response from Govan Law Centre by Friday 19th February 2016 then you have been not been successful on this occasion.


Wednesday, 20 January 2016

GLC recruitment: Project Manager/Senior Solicitor, Education Law Unit

Project Manager and Senior Solicitor - full time position - Education Law Unit at Govan Law Centre

An exciting opportunity to work with this specialist project within the largest community based Law Centre in Scotland. This position requires an energetic, dedicated and forward thinking individual who has a proven track record of involvement or interest in children’s rights. Salary: negotiable. Hours: 34 hours per week (funding secured until 2019)

Job Description
The Project Manager/Senior Solicitor will be primarily responsible for delivering the objectives and targets of Govan Law Centre’s Education Law Unit.  The Project Manager/Senior Solicitor will be responsible for the day to day operation of the project and will report to the Principal Solicitor of Govan Law Centre. This Project covers the whole of Scotland so the successful candidate will require to occasionally travel in this position.

The duties will include:-
      To manage ongoing caseload without supervision
      To supervise the casework of the Education Law Unit team
      To appear in court or tribunals
      To provide telephone support to 2nd tier organizations
      To provide support and advice to pupils with additional support needs and/or their parents by telephone, e-mail or in person.
      To be responsible for the legal aid/funding of the casework of the solicitor/caseworker
      To provide training internally/externally
      To research changes in legislation
      To respond to legislative/policy change
      To prepare reports for the funders
      To assist the Principal Solicitor with funding applications.
      To work with outside organizations to maintain and build up 
     the reputation of ELU.

This list is not exhaustive but gives a fair indication of the duties required.

Person Specification
      unrestricted practising certificate from the Law Society of Scotland;
      good communication skills;
      good research and analytical skills;
      ability to work well without supervision and to meet deadlines;
      interest in and commitment to children’s rights;

      knowledge and experience of issues relating to pupils with additional support needs as well as discrimination issues;
      experience of working with children and young people;
      management experience in the voluntary or public sector.
      Court/tribunal experience
      Knowledge of the civil legal aid system

If you consider you are suitable for this position, please submit your CV together with an accompanying letter explaining your suitability and motivation for the post to Candy Walker, Service Manager, Govan Law Centre, Orkney Street Enterprise Centre, 18-20 Orkney Street, Glasgow G51 2BZ or by e-mail to cwalker @ by 12 NOON on FRIDAY 19th FEBRUARY 2016.  Any applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

It is anticipated that the interviews for the successful candidates will take place during the week commencing 22 February 2016 in Orkney Street Enterprise Centre, Glasgow.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Independent evaluation evidences overwhemling need for Govan Law Centre's prevention of homelessness service

An independent evaluation by Susan Solomon: Independent Research and Evaluation Specialists has found that Govan Law Centre's prevention of homelessness service has "exceeded expectations", was rated as "overwhelmingly positive" and a "success" by all stakeholders, partners and clients.

The report is published here (opens as a PDF).  An example of some of the views of service users and stakeholders are set out below.

"When I met [GLC] I was in a bad place ... I was sofa surfing ... pregnant ... all sorts was happening ... GLC got me into supported accommodation"
(Female, 27 years old)

"I was sleeping on the streets ... trailing to that Twomax place and Hamish Allan every day for about a fortnight ... every day they said they didn't have anything.  I went to GLC ... totally amazing how it all changed ..."
(Male, 28 years old)

"It's simple and immediate ... that's why it works so well ... right place at the right time".
(Partnership Organisation)

"It's enhanced what we do here tremendously ... that's its strength ... it's a win win for both us and our Users".
(Partnership Organisation)

GLC's Prevention of Homelessness Senior Manager Alastair Sharp said:
"Our innovative Rights Hubs Assertive Outreach Service takes the service to the most vulnerable and marginalised  people in Glasgow.  We make sure that our clients are accommodated and that their housing needs are met, along with providing a holistic service which includes welfare rights, social care, access to solicitor/solicitor advocates.  This report provides independent evidence of the overwhelming need for this essential service in Glasgow".

Monday, 30 November 2015

GLC warns MSPs that Private Tenancies Bill would give tenants a 'zero hours contract' on their home unless amended

Govan Law Centre gave oral evidence before the Scottish Parliament's Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee on 18 November 2015, along with the Legal Services Agency, the Law Society of Scotland, COSLA, ALACHO and the City of Edinburgh Council. The Official Report of the meeting is available online here.

Giving evidence on behalf of GLC, Mike Dailly said: "The aims of the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill were good but there were too many mandatory grounds for landlords to evict tenants. It is the equivalent of giving a tenant a zero hours contract on their home."

"As a matter of principle and economic prudence, Govan Law Centre does not believe an ever-increasing PRS is capable of meeting Scotland’s housing need. The sector falls short of being fit for purpose at present. We support UNISON Scotland’s proposals for encouraging pension funds to invest in building good quality affordable housing for rent."

"The private rented sector in Glasgow has grown in recent years and it can be summed us as 'A tale of two cities.'  For those who can afford higher rents there is choice and more good properties available but for those who have no alternative it is a bad experience. The executive looking to move home for a job would have good choice because he has good income but lots end up in private rented homes because they have no other choice."

The ICI Committee is taking oral evidence from the Minister for Housing in Scotland on Wednesday 2 December 2015, and will thereafter prepare its Stage 1 Report on the Bill in January 2016.