10 Oct 2023
The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Scotland has called for the Scottish Government to start the process of defining minimum core obligations (MCOs) for the housing sector ahead of bringing forward any legislation on human rights.
In its response to the Scottish Government Human Rights Bill consultation CIH Scotland noted its support for the legislation but that said that its success was dependent on agreement of and resourcing of MCOs. Given the breadth of issues to consider and CIH Scotland’s recommendation that any legislation should take effect within two years of legislation passing Parliament, CIH Scotland has called on the Scottish Government to immediately start a participatory approach with the housing sector that can meet this deadline.
CIH Scotland’s response also notes that the organisation published guidance for landlords on how to adapt their policies to meet human rights obligations, without any legislative drivers, but that these policy advancements can only go so far without human rights leadership, legislation and resourcing by Scottish Government and that this work must be prioritised.
Callum Chomczuk, national director for CIH Scotland said:
“Housing and human rights can feel complex but at its core it is a set of principles for tackling inequalities, discrimination, and powerlessness. As part of its Housing to 2040 strategy, the Scottish Government committed to implement a legal right to adequate housing. The commitment to embedding a human rights framework for adequate housing, if adequately understood, developed and resourced could prove transformational in not only directing policy, but also directing investment from the Scottish Government into affordable housing.
“However, the consultation as drafted gives no indication to as to what housing as a human right looks like in practice, a timeline, or what the full scope of costs will be as ultimately set out in the legislation’s financial memorandum. This is understandable given there has been no sector wide discussion on what MCOs should be in the housing sector, how that could drive a change in standards, and what a human right to housing looks like in practice for tenants, customers and landlords. However, the lack of consideration of MCOs risks undermining the potential impact of human rights legislation and confidence in a legislative process that will deliver improvements in housing stock and in tenants’ realisable rights at this time.
“We fully support a human-rights approach to housing and we believe that this can have a real impact in driving improvements in outcomes for tenants and customers. But the responsibility for these standards ultimately lies with the State. Firstly, in leading the discussion and setting the standards, and secondly by providing adequate resources and mechanisms for enforcement. The failure to lead and catalyse this discussion is disappointing and jeopardises the potential of the Human Rights Bill to deliver transformational changes for Scotland’s tenants.”