11 November 2019
On 11th November 2019 Registered Social Landlords will become public authorities for the purposes of the provision of housing in respect of which they have granted a Scottish Secure Tenancy or Short Scottish Secure Tenancy.
The change means that RSLs will be subject to requests for information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. RSLs will now need to respond to requests not just by individuals for their personal data but also from a wide variety of individuals and organisations about most aspects of the RSL’s operations and governance. This will provide tenants and others (including the press) with much more information about how RSLs provide services.
Paul Motion, Partner
The potential scope for disclosure is wide–ranging from board minutes to points allocation for accommodation to inspection and repair reports where an injury has been sustained.
The timeframe for responding to requests is short (20 working days) and it is vital that staff are able to identify and respond to requests in good time. RSLs must also ensure that they know when to disclose information and when it may be exempt.
Furthermore, RSLs must also be able to identify whether information requested must be provided under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 or the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 where “environmental information” is requested. While the two regimes are similar, important differences do apply, particularly affecting the considerations when withholding information and the ability of the RSL to charge for information.
BTO Solicitors LLP is uniquely placed to offer advice and assistance both in terms of regulatory compliance and in dealing with complaints and investigations by the Scottish Information Commissioner. The freedom of information team is well equipped to offer both contentious and non-contentious advice on freedom of information matters, complementing the services offered by our Social Housing Unit. In Paul Motion, BTO also boasts the first solicitor in private practice to be accredited as a specialist in Data Protection and Freedom of Information Law.
Paul Motion, Partner & Solicitor Advocate Accredited specialist in Freedom of Information & Data Protection Law firstname.lastname@example.org T: 0131 222 2939
Lynn Richmond, Partner email@example.com T: 0131 222 2939