Shelter Scotland, funded by the Oak Foundation, employed Private Landlord Support Officers (PLSOs) situated within Dundee City Council and Lochaber Housing Association (Highland).
This model of engagement has been replicated in Glasgow too. The Scottish Government provided Glasgow City Council with additional funding for a PLSO post to encourage and support landlords to comply with their legal obligations. The Dundee model was quoted by the Scottish Government in statutory guidance for local authorities too.
When used effectively, a PLSO can provide long-term cost savings for the local authority by improving:
PLSO’s can also offer benefits to tenants living in your area by helping to improve the condition and safety of properties in the PRS.
[This] ‘mirrors the excellent work of the Shelter funded PLSO embedded within Dundee City Council where they have had significant success in engaging with landlords and raising awareness of and compliance with the required standards’
– Glasgow City PRS Policy Team update, May 2017.
Within the Shelter Scotland pilot projects, PLSOs offered:
During the 2-year pilot project in Dundee:
The pilot projects referred to above demonstrate that a PLSO can provide value-for-money for local authorities as well as benefiting tenants and landlords.
You can read in detail about the results achieved from the PLSO pilot in Dundee. You may wish to use this as evidence when building a case for financial support for a PLSO in your area.
In order for these local authorities to obtain funding they will have had to demonstrate value for money by forecasting the indirect financial savings a PLSO will make and show that this is greater than the costs of employing them.
You may want to estimate the current costs to your local authority of dealing with the fallout from failed tenancies (e.g. support for homelessness, welfare advice, taking landlord enforcement actions etc.). This may help inform an estimate of how much money a PLSO could save you if they could decrease the incidences of these issues.
Whilst it is rarely easy to obtain funding for a post that didn’t previously exist, it may be possible once you combine the evidence from successful PLSO pilot projects elsewhere in Scotland, with your estimate of how much money the role could save your local authority.