10. Leasing Properties

This section is aimed at people who have properties which could be rented out and managed via the Council or a local housing association.  It is important (both for owners of empty properties and people in housing need who might be interested in renting a particular empty house) to realise that there are some grant and management options avialble.  These are to encourage private landlords to release their empty houses so that they can then be renovated and let out at affordable rents to local people.

Leasing Properties to the Highland Council 

What is the Leasing Scheme?

Highland Council is keen to increase the number of houses we have to let to people in housing need.  One way we do this is by encouraging private landlords to lease their properties to the Highland Council, so that we can then sub-let the properties to applicants for housing. We are particularly keen to bring unused housing back into use, such as holiday homes or empty properties.

How do I apply?

If you are a property owner please contact your nearest Area Housing Office to discuss the opportunity leasing provides.  Alternatively if you know someone who is a home owner and who might be interested in leasing to the Council let them know about this scheme. You can get a leaflet with this information from the Council and information is included on the Council’s web site.

If you are interested, you should make contact with the Council Housing Office nearest to where the property is located. Contact information is below.

The Council will give you a copy of a draft lease. You should seek independent legal advice on this lease.

You should advise the Council how much rent you are seeking for the property and the Council will assess how much they are able to pay. 

The Council may then arrange to inspect your property.  We will only take on properties that meet set minimum standards.

If there are any works necessary to bring the property up to that minimum standard the Council will give you a list of what these works are. You will be responsible for getting any works completed. However, there may be funding available from the Council to help you carry out repairs or improvements and bring your property up to the standard required.

When the works have been completed a further inspection is undertaken and digital photographs taken as evidence of the condition of the property. A copy is given to you if requested.

A date of entry is then agreed and the lease is signed.

What are the benefits?

This type of arrangement means you can continue to be paid rent but have no direct involvement in letting the property, and you do not have to manage the tenancy.

The Council lets the property and is the landlord of the tenant. We then have to deal with all aspects of the tenancy, such as collecting rent etc. and pick up all the extra costs associated with letting a property.

The Council guarantees to give the property back in the same condition as when it is first let, at no cost to the owner.

The rent is paid 6 months in advance whether the property is occupied or not.

How does it work?

The Council will agree a lease with the owner. (A copy of a draft lease is available on request.) The lease will be for a period of between 5 years and up to 20 years.

The Council will then let the property and issue a tenancy to someone who is on the Council’s housing waiting list.

The Council accepts responsibility for all management and maintenance of the property for the duration of the lease.  The owner is only responsible to keep the property wind and water tight, i.e. is responsible for structural repairs such as the roof or external walls. 

The Council is responsible for any void periods, i.e. the owner will be paid even when the property is empty.

There are some costs associated with setting up the lease.  These will include:

  • Obtaining an electrical safety certificate.
  • Obtaining a gas safety certificate if there is any gas in the property.
  • There may be some works required to bring the property up to a standard suitable for letting.

Where will I get more information?

Please phone your local Area Housing Office. See below and Appendix A.

Badenoch & Strathspey

Area Housing Office
Ruthven Road
Kingussie     PH21 1EJ
Tel: 01540 664510
Fax: 01540 661004

Caithness

Area Housing Office
Market Square, Wick
Wick     KW1 4AB
Tel: 01955 607712
Fax: 01955 605775

Inverness

Area Housing Office
21-23 Church Street
Inverness     IV1 1DY
Tel: 01463 703800
Fax: 01463 715881

Lochaber

Area  Housing Office
Lochaber House, High Street
Fort William     PH33 6EL
Tel: 01397 707299
Fax: 01397 707247

Nairn

Area Housing Office
The Courthouse, High Street
Nairn     IV12 4AU
Tel: 01667 458510
Fax: 01667 452056 

Ross & Cromarty

Area Housing Office
Ross House
High Street
Dingwall     IV15 9RY
Tel: 01349 868463
Fax: 01349 863510

Skye & Lochalsh

Area Housing Office
Tigh na Sgire
Park Lane
Portree, Isle of Skye     IV51 9EP
Tel: 01478 613806
Fax: 01478 613828

Sutherland

Sutherland Housing Office
The Meadows
Dornoch     V25 3SG
Tel: 01862 812010
Fax: 01862 810188

NB   From 1 May 2006, all people renting out property must be registered as private landlords, even if they are leasing property to the Council.

Lead Tenancies Scheme

What is the Lead Tenancies Scheme?
 
The Lead Tenancies Scheme is very similar to the Council’s Leasing Scheme. It was launched by Communities Scotland in 1994 and is designed to bring suitable empty properties back into good condition and residential use.  The scheme offers a renovation grant and works like this:

  • A private landlord lets a property to a registered housing association (the 'lead tenant')
  • If the house or flat needs improvement work then the lead tenant (the housing association) can get a Communities Scotland' grant of up to £22,000, depending on how many years the landlord is willing to lease to the lead tenant (the grant is worth £1,100 a year to the owner for every year of the lease granted up to a maximum of 20 years).
  • The housing association then sub-lets the renovated house or flat to an applicant on their waiting list on a Short Assured Tenancy (of six months duration but renewable) at an affordable rent.
  • The lead tenant (the housing association) remains legally responsible for the regular payment of rent to the property owner. The proper management and maintenance of the house and its return in good condition at the lease expiry date is also their responsibility.

Where can I get more information?

A guidance leaflet, and more information, is available from the local Communities Scotland office:

Communities Scotland
Highlands & Islands Area Office
Urquhart House
Beechwood Business Park
Inverness     IV2 3BW
Tel:  (01463) 711272    Fax:  (01463) 711301

Website: see External Links 

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