Introducing the Homeowner Housing Panel (hohp)
The Property Factors (Scotland) Act 2011 aims to protect homeowners by providing minimum standards for property factors. It will apply broadly to all residential property and land managers whether they are private sector businesses, local authorities or housing associations. The definition of “property factor” is contained in Section 2 of the Act.
Please note our information for Applicants wishing to apply to hohp at commencement of the Property Factors (Scotland) on 1st October 2012, can be found on our webpage 'how we work'.
There will be a compulsory register of all property factors operating in Scotland and property factors will have to comply with a new Code of Conduct that sets out minimum standards of practice.
The Act allows homeowners to make an application to the Homeowner Housing Panel for a determination as to whether their property factor has failed to carry out their factoring duties, or failed to comply with the Code of Conduct. If the Homeowner Housing Committee, which considers the application, considers that the property factor has failed to comply with the Code or failed to carry out their duties, then a Property Factor Enforcement Order must be made requiring the property factor to take such action or make such payment as is considered necessary. Failure to comply with such an Order is a criminal offence.
To take a complaint to the Homeowner Housing Panel, homeowners must first notify their property factor in writing of the reasons why they consider that the factor has failed to carry out their duties, or failed to comply with the Code. The property factor must also have refused to resolve the homeowner’s concerns, or have unreasonably delayed in attempting to resolve them.
All provisions of the Act will come in to force on 1 October 2012.
The Act provides for a public register of property factors to be set up and maintained by Scottish Ministers. Operating as a property factor without registration will be an offence which will be liable on summary conviction to a fine (not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale – currently £5000) or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or both.
A property factor will only be registered by Scottish Ministers if they are considered to meet a fit and proper person test and subsequent renewals of registration of a property factor will also depend on them showing full cooperation in complying with the Property Factor's Code of Conduct. In instance where Scottish Ministers refuse to register an applicant in the register of property factors or where an existing property factor is removed from the register, the individual/body concerned will be unable to recover any costs in respect of work instructed or any charges incurred after a relevant date. This date is linked to the end of the appeal procedure to challenge the Scottish Minister's decision to refuse to register or remove a property factor from the register. Once a property factor is registered, the registration will be valid for three years from the date on which the entry on the register is made and then the property factor will require to submit a further application for renewal of registration. Once a property factor is registered, they will be allocated a registered number which should appear on documents sent to homeowners. Property Factors must provide Scottish Ministers with a list of properties or land in relation to which they act as property factors.
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