HM Insights

Scottish Housing Day 2020 – What social housing means to us

#scottishhousingday

To celebrate Scottish Housing Day, Harper Macleod Partner Collette Miller caught up with the rest of our social housing team to hear about their experience of working in the social housing industry. Our dynamic, passionate and well experienced team know too well about the value of social housing in Scotland and pride themselves in providing the best legal services on a wide range of housing matters. Here's what they had to say.

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"I grew up in social housing and understand the benefits and stability it can give to people, families and communities. Having the opportunity to help housing providers to deliver new social housing, so that others can benefit from it, is a big inspiration for me.

While size certainly isn't everything, being able to say that I was lead lawyer on the largest stock transfer ever undertaken - Glasgow City Council's transfer of 90,000 houses to GHA in 2003 – was a landmark achievement in my career."

Derek Hogg, Partner

 

"Having advised registered social landlords in Scotland for many years, I can honestly say that it is one of the most rewarding aspects of my career and one where you can really contribute. As lawyers, our advice in often sought to assist with difficult issues however social housing is one area where I've had the privilege of advising on truly innovative projects, such as to secure funding for affordable housing developments or to help to put in place innovative new models for delivering services."

James McMorrow, Partner

 

"I have dedicated my career to providing legal advice and support to the social housing industry in Scotland. It is something I am deeply passionate about. Having grown up in a working class family from Glasgow, I know first-hand the difference social housing can make. Social landlords do more than just offer people a place that they are proud to call home – they go the extra mile to ensure that individuals are supported and feel part of a community. My work with Harper Macleod's social housing clients on a wide variety of matters (from reviewing housing management policies and procedures, to drafting leases for care and homelessness accommodation, to securing loan finance, to acquiring development sites, and everything in between!) is both very interesting and incredibly rewarding." 

Collette Miller, Partner

 

"The sense of community within a tenement building or a housing estate can be strong and make a huge difference to the feeling of belonging – it can be like having an extended family living around you. People want to live in a safe and well-maintained environment. I am proud to provide factoring and housing management advice to support Harper Macleod's social landlord clients in providing an effective, reliable, and trustworthy management and maintenance service, serving both their tenants and owner-occupiers. It is vitally important that social landlords continue to protect and maintain housing in a state that can be enjoyed for generations to come, and I am happy to help them do just that."

 Kevin Sturgeon, Solicitor

 

"I have always felt immense pride in being one of the key advisors to the social housing sector. It is important to recognise that there is no 'one size fits all' approach to resolving tenancy management issues and these need to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. I help social landlords to put in place appropriate and effective debt recovery and dispute resolution strategies which take into account each tenant's individual circumstances. The inability of landlords to collect rent inevitably has an impact on their ability to reinvest in housing stock and deliver services valued by tenants, which over time will have a wider effect on the local community. The key focus for me, particularly considering the financial implications of COVID-19, is to ensure that social landlords continue to remain active in their message of support to their tenants and that assistance will be available for those who are prepared to engage. By working together, we can get through this difficult time and ensure that our social housing clients continue to do the great work that they do every day!"

 Natalie Dissake, Senior Associate

 

"Every day working in the social housing sector is different. I can be dealing with standard rent arrears cases one minute and coming up with a strategy to deal with problematic seagulls the next! The most rewarding, and often the most challenging, cases that I deal with are cases of anti-social behaviour. Anti-social behaviour can have a severe negative impact upon other residents in the neighbourhood. You have to find a balance between bringing about an end to the behaviour and understanding the complex issues often facing the perpetrator that may be causing them to act in that way.  Working with other agencies or following the court process to bring about a resolution can make a big difference to everyone involved."

Keri Preece, Senior Solicitor

 

"The advice I give to social landlords on information law, including data protection and freedom of information, has been under increased focus due to recent changes in the law, which have had a significant impact on social housing providers. The importance of tenants and customers of social landlords being informed and social landlords meeting their legal obligations in this area cannot be underestimated. Making information openly available offers tenants and other customers an opportunity to get involved and enables social landlords to promote the positive work that they do and the support which they offer."

Kelly Fraser, Senior Associate

 

"We've had extensive experience of assisting clients to undertake or respond to an investigation, whether it's an internal matter or arising due to Regulator prompted enquiry; the regulation of the sector is essential and underpins the services provided in delivering appropriate housing for many; we help clients navigate the complexities that can arise, ensuring the right path is followed, breeding confidence in the outcome. Being able to guide long-term clients through these situations leaves you with a sense that you are doing something worthwhile."

Bruce Caldow, Partner

 

"I've had the privilege of advising the social housing sector on the ever-changing world of employment law for almost 15 years, and the most rewarding part is working closely with HR teams and senior management to help ensure that their organisations are best placed to meet challenges facing employers, allowing them to focus on continuing to provide their invaluable services.”

Scott Milligan, Partner

 

"My team has assisted the Scottish Government on its shared equity schemes, which include Help to Buy and the First Home Fund, for more than a decade, and it's been great to play a small part in such high profile and successful undertakings. During that time we've helped tens of thousands of households own their own home, and the experience we've built up allows us to bring the quality, efficiency and value necessary for such schemes to thrive.

"Shared equity schemes help potential purchasers to realise their ownership aspirations, but they also help to increase the supply of much needed affordable housing. It has helped the Scottish Government invest more than £1bn to support people in buying properties that meet their needs in the places where they want to live. It's work that sits alongside all the great work our teams do with social landlords and something that we are very proud to be involved with."

David McIndoe, Partner

 

"I advise social landlords across Scotland on public procurement and contracts. I enjoy assisting clients to achieve their commercial and strategic objectives, while navigating the sometimes complex procurement rules.  Ensuring appropriate contracts are in place between a social landlord and its suppliers, consultants and contractors is integral to ensuring the successful and efficient operation of the social landlord and compliance with its statutory obligations. It is also vitally important in allowing social landlords to deliver good quality and best value for money services to their tenants and other customers."

Jill Fryer, Partner

 

"I provide a variety of advice to the social housing sector in relation to data protection, procurement and regulatory compliance. My advice enables social housing providers to focus on the invaluable provision of social housing, which increases the wellbeing of individuals and reduces social isolation by creating an inclusive and engaged community."

 Rachel Bell, Solicitor

 

"I get great satisfaction from knowing that when we complete a site purchase for a social housing provider we are helping them to provide quality homes to families that might not otherwise be able to afford it."

Martin Bennett, Senior Associate

 

"With looming economic uncertainty, it seems inevitable that the social housing sector will face considerable strain on existing housing stock against rising demand. I am proud to work with our social landlord clients to assist with the effective management of their housing stock, which helps ensure that those most in need of housing can access it."

Andrew Upton, Partner

 

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